As part of the Labour’s women’s manifesto the ‘granny leave’ proposal could see grandparents sharing up to 18 of unpaid leave, currently only available to working parents or those with legal parental responsibility, to help take care of their grandchildren.
Nearly three in five grandparents already provide regular childcare according to research from Working Families.
Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, told The Independent:
“Public policy has not caught up with the reality of families’ lives. It is rooted in the past and has to change. It is not for us to dictate what families do but to back them up. Many mothers need to go back to work to maintain the family income while their mums are working longer, often to 67.”
“Many working mothers say they could not cope without their mum or their partner’s mum. But many grandparents give up work when they do not want to and it is difficult to get another job.”
An estimated 1.9 million grandparents have given up a job, reduced their hours, or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren, according to national charity Grandparents Plus.
“Instead of having to choose between retiring early and giving up work, or not being part of the daily care for their grandchildren, we’re saying let’s look at the leave arrangements to recognise the pattern of family life. This is the next frontier. It’s the first time there has been a policy which recognises this role of grandparents.”
Businesses are concerned that they may feel the strain if this proposal were to come to fruition as it could potentially cause disruption to business.
This proposal is part of Labours promises to tackle pay inequality and provide greater support for childcare and parental leave.
The proposal is welcomed by the Grandparents Plus charity. Sam Smethers, its chief executive, says:
“Grandparents are the hidden army of carers in Britain today. We know that one in five working parents – two million of them – would give up work without grandparents to rely on. But increasingly grandparents are working too. So this policy is also a win for employers as it helps both parents and grandparents stay in work.”
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Title image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture