Shared parental leave and pay for working grandparents

George Osbourne announced his plans this week to extend the shared parental leave and pay rules to include working grandparents.

As anyone who works in HR will know a complex system of shared parental leave (SPL) came into force in April this year.  SPL allows eligible parents to share maternity or adoption leave and pay during the child’s first year. 
The government recognises that many grandparents play a key role in the care of children and yet they have no right to paid leave to look after their grandchildren.  Research shows that two million grandparents have either; given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.

The government now plans to extend the system of sharing leave to allow grandparents to look after the child whilst the parents return to work.  The aim is to increase flexibility and choice for working parents.  It is thought that allowing grandparents to share in the care of a child will be particularly beneficial to single mothers or to parents who both wish or need to return to work.  It is worth remembering however that SPL only covers the first year of a child’s life or after adoption and so these changes will not provide a long term solution to childcare arrangements.
Employers who are already struggling to get to grips with the SPL regime may be concerned at the proposed addition of another layer of complexity.  However, the changes are not yet finalised.  The plan is to consult during the first half of 2016, with the new provisions coming into force in 2018.  In the meantime, grandparents who wish to care for their grandchildren will have to rely on the flexible working regime which allows them to request a change to their working hours.
Petra Venton