Speaking at a Working Families briefing on flexible working today, Grandparents Plus chief executive Sam Smethers said grandparents or other family members who take on the care of a child do not get enough parental leave rights and support.
“If you take on a child in an unplanned way you will not have the same support as adopters in the workplace,” she said. “One really significant concession we want is an adjustment leave entitlement – a few weeks of unpaid leave. If it becomes a permanent situation, we think they should get the same paid leave entitlement as adopters.”
Smethers told employers at the briefing that 7 million grandparents in the UK are helping out with childcare and one in four families depends on their contribution. In a survey with Age UK it found grandparent childcare hours have gone up 34% in one year – childcare that would cost £7.3bn by other means.
“This group of older workers enables parents to come to work – they are the lubrication in the system,” she said.
This group may also have multiple caring responsibilities. “Caring up and down the age range is a really big issue. The complexity of family life will continue to grow.”
Employers may find grandparents are keen to take up flexible working opportunities with the extension of right to request legislation later this year. In a survey, 46% said they would work flexibly if they could. Smethers said employers should recognise that helping grandparents work flexibly is essential and will benefit parents, employers and the economy.
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