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Should grandparents have the legal right to time off to spend with their grandchildren?

AuthorsTrishna Modessa-ParekhJoseph Shelston

3 min read


Should grandparents have the legal right to time off to spend with their grandchildren

On the birth or adoption of a child, parents may be entitled to statutory leave such as maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and/or adoption leave to spend time with their new-born baby.

Parents are also entitled to statutory parental leave, which allows for up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave per child up to their 18th birthday and time off for dependents in an emergency situation.

Family-friendly policies that go beyond the statutory minimum have become commonplace in today’s competitive job market, for employers to attract and retain talented individuals, as well as promoting a positive working culture by supporting employees with their personal and family life. 

But what about grandparents?

Grandparents often play an integral part in caring for and raising their grandchildren from birth. In 2015 it was noted by the government that nearly two million grandparents had sacrificed their jobs, reduced their hours or taken time off work to help with childcare commitments for their families.

Consequently, the government announced that there were planned changes to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents, to provide flexibility in working arrangements for grandparents without fear of losing their job. Nevertheless, despite consultation due in 2016 with a view to the changes to legislation by 2018, this initiative was subsequently shelved.

However, it seems that employers have decided to take matters into their own hands. Saga PLC, a company that specialises in insurance products for the over 50’s, recently announced that they are introducing one week’s paid leave to grandparents to celebrate the birth of a grandchild and have extended access to their onsite nursery for grandchildren of Saga employees.

This benefit was introduced following consultation and research with Saga’s employees and 2,500 external people over 50, which revealed that 25% of working grandparents found it difficult to balance work with childcare commitments.

Whilst Saga appears to be the first company in the UK to announce a policy aimed at supporting grandparents with childcare, we anticipate that this may spark an opportunity for change.

What next?

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have the opportunity to make changes to promote a positive working culture, attract and retain new talent and support their existing workforce with their personal and family life. This is an opportunity to re-align the organisation’s values with those of their workforce, which may have changed in light of the pandemic. With that in mind, benefits which reflect the flexible and agile ways in which modern families are balancing their work and home commitments (increasingly across the generations) are likely to resonate.

Other recent examples we have seen of employers going beyond their statutory obligation includes in relation offering paid menopause, pregnancy loss and other fertility related leave.

How we can help you

Our team of employment law experts have wide-ranging experience in supporting and advising businesses on family leave-related policies and procedures.

Get in touch with Trishna Modessa- Parekh or your usual member of our employment team if you are looking for guidance and support on introducing time off for Grandparents or any other family-related benefits for colleagues.

This contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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