On 5 October 2015 the Chancellor, George Osbourne MP, announced that the UK Government planned to extend shared parental leave to working grandparents, so that new parents can share maternity pay and leave with their child’s working grandparents.
Details at this stage are very limited but legislation is expected by 2018, with a consultation starting in 2016. It is hoped that this will give more insight and detail into this proposal.
Since the right to take shared parental leave was introduced, it is not thought that there has been an overwhelming take uptake from dads. However, it is probably too early to really know what impact the change has had.
Given that the purpose of the shared parental leave was to share the child care burden between the mother and the father we are unclear how grandparents are likely to assist with this. The policy consideration behind this was to promote greater equality between men and women in the workplace; to ensure that women do not face the “child bearing age” problem in the workplace. It was also hoped that more men would take up paternity leave making it more of the norm in workplaces regardless of sex, job role and hierarchy. We would question how the permitting of grandparents to take on this role is helpful in achieving these aims. What is more likely to happen is that the mother will take time off to look after the new-born and any shared leave will be taken by the grandparents and not the dad. Meaning any impact on gender equality in the workplace, or relating to the care burden, will be nil.