An announcement at the Conservative party conference revealed that parents will have the option to split Shared Parental Leave with the grandparents of the child. After the implementation date, which is expected to be in 2018, grandparents will have the same rights as parents to take blocks of Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay.
Shared Parental Leave was introduced for babies born on or after 5th April 2015 as a way of giving parents the choice over who – the mother or the father – would take time off work to spend with the baby in its first year. The scheme provides much more flexibility than the straightforward maternity/paternity system and allows parents to take time off work at the same time, and for broken blocks of time throughout the year. Effectively, the mother will convert her remaining maternity leave to shared parental leave but currently, a mother may only share her leave with her husband, or the father of child. A similar system applies when a child is adopted.
The ability to divide Shared Parental Leave further will aid single mothers by giving them the option to share the parental leave with one of the grandparents. The impact on parents as a whole will be that it will allow them to return to work more rapidly, as they will be able to rely on grandparents for childcare.
Grandparents who work are currently able to make a statutory request for flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous employment, however, this would only permit them to ask for a change to their working pattern, e.g. to start and finish later, or to reduce the number of days worked per week. Shared parental leave would allow grandparents to take a multiple weeks off work in one block.
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