Earlier this month, the government announced plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to include working grandparents. The changes are designed to broaden the flexibility and choice of statutory (grand) parental leave available during the first year of a child’s life.
According to proponents of the proposals, the changes recognise the vital role that grandparents play in the provision of childcare and support.
The new plans allow for a maximum of 50 out of the 52 weeks leave available to be shared between working grandparents, the child’s mother and father (non-working grandparents are unlikely to be eligible). The first two weeks after childbirth remain compulsory for the mother. Working families will also be able to split statutory shared parental pay.
According to the latest figures, two million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours, or have taken time off work to help families with the cost of childcare. What’s more, 60% of all working grandparents with grandchildren aged under the age of 16 provide some form of childcare.
It is hoped that the new scheme will encourage more grandparents to remain in work, rather than quit their jobs to help with childcare. In addition, it is argued that the plans will particularly benefit single parents, who don’t have a partner to share leave with.
The changes, which are set to be implemented by 2018, appear to have cross-party support, with Labour having proposed a similar policy. However, some business leaders have expressed concerns about the proposals.
Indeed, while many employers are sympathetic when it comes to the need for flexibility and understanding over the issue of parental leave, the new legislation is likely to impose a significant additional administrative burden on businesses.
The government will consult on the details of the plans in early 2016.
If you would like to know more about shared (grand) parental leave, please contact the Linder Myers’ Employment team today.Contact our employment team