Working grandparents should be allowed unpaid leave
Published on 17 December 2013 02:00 PM
Working grandparents should be allowed to take unpaid leave in order to look after their grandchildren, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
It has called for a new right to grant them this freedom, something that currently only applies in the event of an emergency.
A report reveals that almost 3 out of 5 grandparents provide regular childcare, mainly so that the child's parents can work without having to pay costly nursery fees.
But, as record numbers of people are working into their late 60s to build a larger pension pot for their retirement years, many are now taking on childcare responsibilities for a second time in their lives.
3 out of 5 grandparents provide regular childcare
Thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandchildren are prevented from doing so, however, because a significant number of businesses have failed to keep up with this burgeoning trend.
The TUC therefore wants to see them given the right to request unpaid leave from work, whatever their job.
'The informal childcare that millions of grandparents regularly provide is one of the most important and unheralded forms of care in Britain today,' said general secretary Frances O'Grady.
'The childcare provided by grandparents allows mums and dads to work, saves them money on nursery and childminder fees, and creates a special bond across different generations in a family.
'It's important that public policy catches up with the needs of working grandparents and their families. A new right to unpaid leave would be a great way to get more working grandparents involved in childcare, and at very little cost to an employer.'
The survey of 4,000 grandparents and a similar number of parents also found that working grandparents are more likely to look after their grandchildren than those who are already enjoying retirement.
We risk a 'childcare gap' emerging
But while many grandparents would love to entertain their grandchildren, some revealed they had been refused time off by their employer or did not feel they could ask.
'We risk a 'childcare gap' emerging, with parents paying the price, if grandparents cannot afford to reduce their hours or can't get the flexibility they need,' commented Sam Smethers, chief executive of Grandparents Plus.
'The solution is a period of grandparental leave and an investment in formal childcare.'
The level of unpaid, informal childcare provided by grandparents is estimated to be saving families thousands of pounds each year.
Copyright Press Association 2013