Claire McCann considers this week’s announcement by George Osborne in the March 2016 budget to extend the right to shared parental leave
Shared parental leave was introduced for parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015, allowing mothers to share their leave with their “partner” which is defined in the legislation as “someone, of either sex, who lives with the mother and the child in an enduring family relationship but who is not the mother’s child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew”. Most often, this will be the child’s father or the mother’s partner if there is an “enduring family relationship”.
Consequently, other relatives – including grandparents – are specifically excluded from eligibility for shared parental leave even if they live full-time with the mother.
At last year’s Conservative party conference, George Osborne announced plans to extend shared parental leave to grandparents from 2018, allowing mothers to share their maternity leave with one nominated working grandparent. He observed that allowing a working grandparent to share leave would help families to keep childcare costs down, with grandparents playing a central role in caring for their grandchildren.
In Wednesday’s budget, George Osborne confirmed that the Government would begin a consultation on the implementation of shared parental leave for grandparents in May 2016. The consultation would also consider “options for streamlining the system, including simplifying the eligibility requirements and notification system”. A simplification of the system is to be welcomed as employers and HR professionals have been concerned about the complex requirements of shared parental leave.
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