If you’re fortunate enough to have hands-on parents or parents-in-law who live close enough to help out with your children, it will no doubt delight you to hear that the government is to announce new plans to extend paid parental leave to working grandparents.
Chancellor George Osborne will unveil new plans to allow working grandparents to be paid £140 per week to look after a new grandchild for up to one year.
The Sunday Times reports:
Millions will be able to claim the so-called “granny or grandpa leave” of £140 a week for up to a year after the birth of a grandchild. “More than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first return to work after having a baby,” Osborne said.
The plans follow the recent introduction of shared parental leave whereby new mums and dads can share up to 52 weeks of paid leave between them, instead of the mother only being entitled to paid maternity leave.
Under the new scheme, new mothers who wish to return to work could do so any time after the first fortnight following a new baby’s birth, and opt to have their baby looked after by either their own parents or their partners’ parents.
This means new mums and dads who don't wish to take a year out of the workplace and who have parents or parents-in-law who are willing to help look after a new grandchild could return to work at any time during the baby’s first year of life, without having to pay for childcare.
Grandparents who wish to take grandparent leave must be in employment but their job will remain open for up to a year should they wish to return to work after grandparent leave comes to an end.
The Daily Mail reports that George Osborne said:
‘More than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first return to work after having a baby. In many families, grandparents play a central role in caring for their grandchildren and helping to keep down the costs of childcare. Increasing numbers of grandparents, however, also want to remain in work themselves. Research shows two million grandparents have either given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.’
It's an interesting scheme and while I love the premise of formally acknowledging the part that many grandparents play in helping to raise children, I can imagine that many new mums might prefer to take a year's leave themselves rather rush back to work and let a grandparent take care of the baby.
But there are loads of scenarios where I could see this working well, including for working parents who don't feel they can take a full year out of the workplace after having a baby. As a freelancer I took a short period of maternity leave after the birth of my third child because I'd have lost several clients if I'd taken a full year's break, plus I was able to work from home and thus juggle my working hours around my baby's needs. My husband then took a period of shared parental leave which worked brilliantly for us, but I know not all fathers are in a position to do the same, and if a grandparent could step into that breach and be paid for doing so, I think the scheme could really benefit families.
Of course, it probably requires that you're on very good terms with your parents or parents-in-law - I can imagine few things more stressful than handing your baby over to a grandparent to look after when you go to work if that relationship is anything less than open and communicative. I'd also love to see this extended so that grandparents could take a year of leave at any time during the child's first three years because many new mums and dads will want to take a year's leave but struggle to justify childcare costs when it comes to returning to work after a year.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this story. Would you consider asking your baby's grandparents to take a year's paid leave to look after your baby so that you could return to work? Come and share your thoughts over on our Facebook page.