SHARED GRANDPARENTAL LEAVE – THE NEXT COG IN THE ALREADY COMPLEX SHARED PARENTAL LEAVE WHEEL
Last year saw a surge in the Government’s family friendly and flexible working policies, the biggest of which was the introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL). But they aren’t finished just yet…
In October 2015 Chancellor George Osbourne announced that the Government will be extending SPL to working grandparents. It is estimated that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours or taken time off work in order to help out with childcare and try to reduce the costs for parents. The Government appear keen to recognise the pivotal role that grandparents can play in childcare, particularly in respect of single mothers.
The Government’s intentions are of course good – the Chancellor has said it is hoped this will enable thousands more to remain in work, which is good news for the economy. The policy is also intended to provide working families with greater flexibility on how their childcare is structured. Despite this, there are understandable concerns as to how sharing a single maternity ‘pot’ will work in practice given that it could end up being shared between six people (two parents and two sets of grandparents) or even more if you include partners who are not related to the child. Further complexities will be added where the grandparent has more than one grandchild under the age of one.
The Government will be consulting on the introduction of grandparental leave in the first half of this year. However, employers need to not worry about another complex policy being introduced just yet, it anticipated that the new legislation will not come into effect until 2018.
Having witnessed the confusion caused by the labyrinthine nature of current SPL rules, you will no doubt be relieved to hear that the Chancellor has promised that the rules on grandparental leave will be kept simple – we will see!
Whether grandparental leave results in another complex cog in the SPL policy or is a straightforward addition, now is the time to make sure that your family friendly policies are fully up to date and that you understand the current SPL procedures and eligibility requirements. Forewarned is forearmed so take this opportunity to monitor how your current SPL policy works and look at ways in which it could be adapted to cater for grandparental leave.
If you would like your policies to be reviewed or to receive advice on how SPL applies in practice, contact a member of our Employment Department.