Grandparents will be able to take shared parental leave and pay under plans laid out by Chancellor George Osborn.
The chancellor announced the plan at the Conservative party conference last weekend. Consultations on the details of the policy will take place next year, with the policy set for 2018.
The coalition government introduced Shared Parental Leave this April. The policy allows a working mother to give up part or all of her maternity leave for her partner to use instead (aside from the statutory two weeks that she must take). By extending the policy to grandparents it provides an option for parents to return to work more quickly, and also means that grandparents do not have to quit their jobs in order to look after their grandchildren.
The option of shared parental leave for grandparents was part of the Labour manifesto prior to the general election this year.
The government said in a statement: “Evidence suggests that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours or have taken time off work to help families who cannot afford childcare costs. Grandparents may be contributing as much as £8bn each year to bridge the gap as work pressures increase.”
“Of working grandparents who have never taken time off work to care for grandchildren under 16, around 1 in 10 have not been able to do so because they have either been refused time off by their employer, or simply felt that they weren’t able to ask. As a result, parents will be able to return to work sooner if they wish to.”
The new policy has been welcomed by some employee groups as it offers more flexibility to the parents who cannot use Shared Parental Leave. This includes single mothers, those whose partner is financially unable to take shared parental leave and families where one of the parents is self-employed.