More rights for time off. That appears to be the theme at least in relation to employment pledges that the main political parties are aiming at.

Last week we reported the Conservative party’s pledge to introduce three days’ paid leave each year for employees to undertake voluntary work. This week it’s the Labour party and their intention to extend the recently expanded parental leave rights to grandparents. Parental leave allows parents to take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave per child per year up to a maximum of 18 weeks’ leave.

The idea of ‘Granny leave’ is certainly not new. It’s something that has been talked about for years. It’s beyond doubt that many families depend upon the grandparents for childcare.  Research has shown that one in five working parents would give up work without grandparents to rely upon and a 2014 poll commissioned by Grandparents Plus found that nearly two million grandparents had given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.

Sounds like good news all round then with working grandparents gaining more flexibility to assist with the childcare of their grandchildren; working parents getting more opportunities for free child care and employers being able to boost their retention rates – both with the grandparents who may otherwise have retired early and the parents who may have had to give up work themselves without the grandparent’s assistance with childcare.

However, given the number of recent changes regarding other family friendly leave rights there may just be a few in HR departments around the country wincing at the thought of yet more leave request forms to process.

The introduction earlier this month of ‘shared parental leave’ – not to be confused with parental leave – has already led to the creation of a whole new set of policies and procedures with new files for shortening notices, eligibility declarations, and request notices for leave and pay. By way of reminder, the shared parental leave effectively allows parents to share the statutory maternity leave and pay that was previously available only to mothers. The new proposed rights for ‘grand-parental leave’ will no doubt lead to even more files and notices as forms are developed to cover eligibility and requests to take leave.

As for the policy itself, well one of the points that really stands out as a potential problem issue is how to measure the total entitlement for time off. A working grandparent could have several grandchildren. Will the four weeks of ‘grand-parental leave’ apply to each grandchild, as the current parental leave applies to each child, so that a grandparent with say nine grandchildren will theoretically be able to take 36 weeks’ leave? That won’t allow much time for the employee to fit in their 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave or the proposed three days’ paid volunteer leave…!

This post was edited by Samantha Myers. For more information, email blogs@gateleyuk.com.

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.