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
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.