· 1 min read · Features

Hot topic: Extension of Shared Parental Leave to grandparents

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Older people have been given the right to take time off to help care for their grandchildren

A recent government announcement extends the shared parental leave allowance to working grandparents. Is this a step forward for flexibility and working parents? Or does the policy run the risk of reducing the amount of men taking shared parental leave? And will it be easy for HR to implement? Two HR experts have their say.

"At present there is little information about the extension of SPL to grandparents. However, for organisations such as the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which already has a culture of supporting fathers in playing a major role in sharing childcare, this initiative may well provide additional flexibility and choice to both parents and grandparents, which we think can only be a good thing.

Including grandparents in shared parental leave will also recognise that changing family demographics can include both grandparents who are still working and families that are no longer ‘nuclear’. Therefore this encourages sensible support for a variety of family set-ups.

At the LSE we seek to ensure that fathers/partners are able to become equal carers. First, we offered enhanced additional paternity leave and now we offer enhanced pay under SPL – and we have had a reasonable number of fathers/partners who’ve taken up these provisions.

We strive to create a culture where it is acceptable for fathers/partners to be more involved with family life and balance work accordingly, and this is something we are continually working to develop. We do understand the concerns that in some organisations it is already difficult for men to feel able to take time off for parental responsibilities, so the ability for grandparents to take leave instead may not serve to improve this. However, the problem that needs tackling in these cases is the workplace culture, not legislative developments.

We would like to see that the eventual proposals do not create further bureaucracy in an already complex area, but it is hard to see how this can be avoided. On balance, we would much rather see progressive legislation introduced than not, and look forward to hearing more about how this can work in practice for both employers and employees."

Natalie Pancheri is an HR policy adviser at the London School of Economics

Check back tomorrow for part two of this Hot Topic with DWF's Kate Meadowcroft.