13 October 2015
Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to allow grandparents to share parental leave pay at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
The change in the law will allow parents to share their parental leave with working grandparents, allowing them to return to work while the grandparent looks after the child. The grandparent who takes leave from work to care for the child will receive either £139.58 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings, depending on which is lower.
The changes will extend Shared Parental Leave which came into effect on 5th April 2015. Shared Parental Leave gives parents the ability to share 50 weeks of leave between them, following the birth of their child. They can either use this time together, or one after the other.
Grandparental Leave – The Positives and Negatives
Extending Shared Parental Leave gives new parents further flexibility and the ability to choose how to share their time off work – not only between each other but also with the baby’s grandparents, providing the grandparent is willing to take time off work to accept responsibility for childcare so that the parent can return to work. Many grandparents already play a central role in bringing up their children’s children, and the ability to take leave could now allow them to take an active role in childcare and remain in work.
Changing the law again so soon after its first introduction has been criticised by some saying that further changes to the law will increase the administrative strain on businesses who are still bedding in the changes from 5th April. Before Shared Parental Leave was introduced, 36% of small businesses were not ready to implement the scheme. Businesses will need to support these changes to the law to avoid treating employees unfairly as it could result in a maternity discrimination at work claim.
The positives of grandparental leave include helping working families keep the costs of childcare down and allowing parents to get back to work quicker than they might have been able to without the support of a grandparent. George Osborne argues that this will be good for the economy, saying that "Research shows two million grandparents have either given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren. Allowing them instead to share leave with their children will keep thousands more in the workplace, which is good for our economy."
Slater and Gordon’s Senior Associate Employment Lawyer Sarah Evans said, “The extension of parental employment rights to grandparents who increasingly assist with child care is something that has been mooted on both sides of the political divide. Many families struggle with childcare costs and have no option but to rely on help from grandparents, so it seems a natural extension to the current regime on parental leave. Grandparents and parents should make sure that they understand their rights and obligations in this area of law as it continues to develop.”
For more information, read our blog: About Shared Parental Leave in England and Wales.
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