The Government recently announced proposed changes to the ‘shared parental leave’ regime by extending the entitlement to working grandparents. This change is due to take effect in 2018. The Government consulted on the matter in 2016.

Shared parental leave has been available since April 2015 and allows employees and their partners more flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year following birth/adoption. The Government has explained the justification behind an expansion to allow grandparents to take the leave, as follows:

Research shows that more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first return to work following maternity leave. The proposal should particularly assist single mothers who do not have a partner with whom they can share parental leave, and also couples where both parents are keen to return to work early.

Evidence suggests that nearly two million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours or taken time off work to help families who cannot afford childcare costs. If grandparents can benefit from statutory leave, then certain parents will be able to return to work more quickly, after having a baby, and businesses will be able to retain older members of the workforce who may otherwise have been forced to give up their jobs.

It will be interesting to see how the expansion to working grandparents will operate in practice. An unfortunate consequence of the change will be employers having to re-visit their family-friendly policies again!

Source: OPFS, Scotland, 2017