The government are set to launch their first consultation into extending shared parental leave for grandparents, it was announced during last month's budget.
Due to be launched in May, the consultation will consider options for 'streamlining' the shared parental leave system, whilst simplifying eligibility requirements for parental leave.
Currently, only the child's mother and/or her partner are eligible for shared parental leave, but if the government's proposals go ahead, eligibility will be extended to grandparents too, to reflect the key role grandparents often have in caring for their grandchildren.
Manesh Patel, Senior Benefits Consultant at Aon Employee Benefits said: "We are seeing the shared leave concept really start to take traction. The first step in sharing leave entitlement has been made with fathers and it is logical that extending it to grandparents is the next step. However, it is likely that there will be groups of people who do not have access to grandparents and may want the scheme extended again to other family members."
Commenting on the plans, Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor at XpertHR warned that HR professionals may be 'concerned' at the added complexity the new legislation could bring to parental leave. He told Personnel Today:
"It's impossible to overstate the difficulty of the current shared parental leave rules, which has surely put employers and employees off this type of leave," he explained. "HR professionals will be relieved to learn that the consultation will also look at options for cutting down on the convoluted rules. Ultimately, this is what may have a longer term impact for employers, particularly because grandparents are already catered for under the right to request flexible working, which is now available to any employee with 26 weeks' service."
Patel added: "The idea in principle is good, but in practicality, it may be difficult to manage and implement. Available data and information since the shared parental leave was implemented should be looked at very carefully to fully understand the impact it is likely to have on businesses as well as participation levels."
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