The Chancellor, Mr George Osborne has recently announced that he will extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents.

Shared Parental Leave enables mothers and fathers to have the option of sharing a period of leave after having a baby or adopting a child which can be taken at the same time or different times. For instance, a mother may have 5 months maternity leave and then opt into Shared Parental Leave – enabling her partner to have additional months as Shared Parental Leave. Shared Parental Leave can be taken in one continuous period or split periods and is subject to conditions and qualifying criteria.

The idea is that the planned changes to include working grandparents will increase flexibility and choice in parental leave arrangements and support working parents with the costs of childcare during the first year of a child’s life.

It is believed that the introduction of the policy will particularly benefit single mothers who, without a partner to share leave with, will now be able to do so with one of their child’s grandparents. Mr Osborne also hopes the option will allow parents to return to work more quickly if they want to.

The Government’s aim is to introduce this in 2018 and will consult on the details during the first half of 2016.

Given that it has recently been reported that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced hours or taken time off work to help families that cannot afford childcare costs, the uptake may be significant meaning it may have a substantial impact on your business.

It is worth employers considering the following if this is introduced:

  • Carrying out a review of your existing staff handbook particularly those policies dealing with maternity and paternity leave to check that they are up to date and comply with current legislation. These policies can help manage any requests and deal with satisfactory notice periods to assist with the smooth running of your business
  • Update any existing shared parental leave policy to cover grandparents
  • Ensure that line managers and senior members of staff are notified of the policy in order that they can properly deal with any requests made
  • Employers should be mindful of the fact that it is unlawful to treat an employee unfairly as a result of them exercising the right to take shared parental leave
  • It is worth remembering that all employees (subject to certain criteria) are able to make flexible working requests.

If you require any advice in relation to shared parental leave or a flexible working request, please contact our specialist HR & employment team on 0845 050 1958 or complete an online enquiry form today.