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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

30 OCT 2015

Working grandparents to share parental leave

Pam Loch

Managing Partner


Working grandparents to share parental leave

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, Chancellor George Osborne announced further changes to the rules on parental leave. In her latest article for Jordan Publishing, Pam Loch examines what this will mean for employers.

Under proposed new rules, working grandparents could be paid £140/week and they could take leave for up to a year to enable their sons and daughters to return to work more quickly after the arrival of children. Grandparents who take this option will be entitled to return to their jobs after a year. The change, if implemented, is likely to fall under the current statutory scheme which would mean that parents can share up to 50 weeks of shared parental leave and up to 37 weeks of shared parental pay.

The proposed change reflects the increasing number of new parents who rely on their own parents for childcare in the face of significant childcare costs. In many cases, this could be the difference between whether working is feasible for a new parent or not. The Chancellor also positioned it as an opportunity for employers who want to retain older members of their workforce, who might otherwise choose to leave the workforce permanently to care for grandchildren. These are certainly two of the positive outcomes, but there are a number of reasons for employers to be concerned.

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This proposal comes on the back of the introduction of Shared Parental Leave. It is a change that is unlikely to be welcomed by businesses which many employers are still getting to grips with the complexities of. In view of the ageing workforce in the UK, the number of working people affected by the latest proposals could be significant. We anticipate that the number of flexible working requests would undoubtedly increase as these tend to be most common among people who return to work after a period of parental leave. There could also be the additional complications of ‘keeping in touch days’ being administered.

Hardest hit are likely to be SMEs where staff often wear multiple hats and therefore they could be expensive to replace temporarily if these proposals are implemented. Employers who offer more generous maternity leave schemes than the statutory minimum may also find themselves particularly exposed as they would no doubt have to extend that to grandparents too.

The proposals are subject to a period of consultation, which will take place in the first half of 2016. As things stand, this new legislation is likely to come into effect in 2018 but it’s worth bearing in mind the impact it could have on your business now as you plan for the years ahead.

If you need any further information on this or have any queries please contact Pam at pam.loch@lochlaw.co.uk. Pam Loch is the Managing Director of niche employment law practice, Loch Associates Employment Law, HR Advise Me and Loch Training.

For more information on Loch Employment Law please go to www.lochlaw.co.uk, for Loch Training go to www.lochtraining.co.uk and HR Advise Me go to www.hradvise.me.
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