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Labour launches Women’s Manifesto – with flexible leave option for working grandparents

Working grandparents could share parents’ unpaid parental leave under a consultation to be launched today (Wednesday) by Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader.

The move would allow a grandparent to take time off work to help look after a grandchild without fear of losing their job, and is further evidence of Labour’s commitment to support working families. 

Labour’s Women’s Manifesto, launched today in London, recognises the vital role that grandparents play in looking after their grandchildren when parents are at work. 

More than half of all mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first go back to work after maternity leave, while two-thirds of grandparents with grandchildren aged under 16 provide some childcare (i). 

Recent polling by YouGov showed that 84 per cent of British women aged 50-70 thought looking after grandchildren on a regular basis has a positive impact (ii). 

However public policy hasn’t kept up with the reality of families’ lives:

With 1.9 million grandparents giving up a job, reducing their hours, or taking time off work to look after their grandchildren[iii].

To help grandparents help their families and stay in their jobs, Labour will consult on what flexibilities would work make the system work better for families and businesses given changing patterns of care, including the option of allowing grandparents who want to be more involved in caring for their grandchildren to share in parents’ unpaid parental leave.

Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party said:

“There have been many ways in which family life has changed, but public policy remains rooted in the past. This was evident in conversations I had across the country as part of the work of the Older Women’s Commission.

“Labour has a better plan for working families. The sharing of parental leave with grandparents could give families more flexibility by recognising the important role that grandparents play.”

Chuka Umunna, Shadow Secretary of State for business said

“Many companies recognise the benefits of flexible working to retain valued employees with caring responsibilities, and some are already recognising the pressures on grandparents. But the system is outdated. We need to look at how to make parental leave more flexible so that it works better for families and businesses.”

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