As the Conservative Party conference in Manchester commenced this week, Chancellor George Osborne made his announcement proposing shared parental leave be extended to working grandparents.
Currently, the employee and the other parent are jointly entitled to a maximum of 50 weeks of SPL between them, subject to satisfying the eligibility conditions for entitlement to SPL. All of the 52 weeks of maternity leave, except the two-week period of compulsory maternity leave after birth, are available for sharing between both parents as SPL, less the weeks spent by the child's mother on maternity leave.
The Chancellor's announcements means grandparents will also be able to take paid time off work for childcare under government plans to extend the existing leave.
The statutory payment, which is currently £139.58 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings, can be divided between parents and grandparents. This extension is specifically intended to help single mothers as they do not have a partner to share this with and may otherwise miss out on the opportunity of shared parental leave.
This flexibility is likely to help all parents return to work faster and with more ease. The proposal is lead by figures suggesting more than half of mothers turn to grandparents for help with childcare when they first return to work. According to Chancellor Osborne this has been detrimental to some grandparents as they have then given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off to look after their grandchildren. It is therefore felt that this change will allow them to share leave while they maintain employment which ultimately is good for the economy.
Some specialists have raised and expressed their concern about the cost implications of this extension to grandparents, as well as the complexity of the original rules only implemented earlier this year.
Due to the complex nature of the original shared parental leave regulations, its popularity and uptake has been minimum at best. Time will tell if this additional caveat creates a bigger uptake.
What this means for Employers? Ensure you have an up to date family-friendly policy handbook which covers and provides clear guidance on Shared Parental Leave (SPL).
Contact Harries Human Resources to claim our free Shared Parental Leave Policy by Friday 9th October 2015.
Tel: 01206 865464