Grandparents’ leave provides greater choice for families, says business chief

Indigo Swan. Left to right,, Emily Groves, James Wortley .Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Indigo Swan. Left to right,, Emily Groves, James Wortley .Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A small business founder has said George Osborne's new 'granny leave' would provide important options for parents with young children.

The chancellor announced yesterday that he would extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents, aimed to increase flexibility and choice during the first year of a child's life.

Emily Groves, managing director of Norwich-based energy consultants Indigo Swan, said having choice was the most important thing for new parents. 'If this presents a reasonable option to people it's something worth considering,' she added.

But she said it would depend on the age of the grandparents.

When Ms Groves gave birth to her son 11 months ago, her parents had already retired.

However, for James Wortley, commercial manager at Indigo Swan, his mother will play a large role in childcare when his partner goes back to work after the birth of their child later this month.

'My mum made the decision to leave her job when we were having a child,' said the 35-year-old. 'I'm fortunate because when my partner goes back to work my mum has offered three days a week.

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'She was ready to stop work, but other grandparents could be retired already.'

The new policy will be implemented in 2018, following a consultation.

The government said more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they go back to work after maternity leave, and more than 60pc of working grandparents with grandchildren aged under 16 provide some childcare.

The total of 50 weeks of leave will not be extended, but the plan is aimed at giving greater flexibility to families in the first year of a child's life.

Parents will be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of parental leave pay, currently £139.58 a week or 90pc of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower, with a nominated working grandparent. But Adam Marshall, executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: 'Another change to parental leave policy is the last thing businesses need after a decade of upheaval.

'The last set of changes hasn't even bedded in yet and many firms will be astonished that the government has decided to intervene yet again.

'Most employers are sympathetic when parents or grandparents need flexibility to help with caring duties, and many go out of their way to accommodate affected staff.

'But adding new legislation – and increasing the administrative headache and uncertainty businesses already face – is not the way to go.'

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