16 April 2015 #Employment
Last week, the Conservatives unveiled its election manifesto commitment for employees of large employers to be allowed to take three days paid “volunteering leave” a year to carry out charitable or other volunteering work. This week, Labour is announcing its plans for up to 18 weeks unpaid leave for grandparents to look after their grandchildren.
Part of Labour’s women’s manifesto, the so-called "granny leave” proposal would mean grandparents could share up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave, or four weeks in any year that parents can already take for each child and adopted child up to their 18th birthday.
According to The Independent, more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they return to work after maternity leave, while two-thirds of grandparents with grandchildren under 16 provide some childcare. An estimated 1.9m grandparents have either given up their job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.
Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, told The Independent: “Public policy has not caught up with the reality of families’ lives. It is rooted in the past and has to change. It is not for us to dictate what families do but to back them up. Many mothers need to go back to work to maintain the family income while their mums are working longer, often to 67.” She said that allowing grandparents to share parental leave would help working parents cope during the “annual nightmare” of the school summer holidays.
On the other hand, the Conservatives are promising three days’ paid leave each year to volunteer. Every public sector worker and anyone working in a company with at least 250 employees – more than 15 million people in total - would be entitled to the volunteering leave.
Workers could use the paid leave to carry out charity work or other activities such as serving as a school governor, under the plans.
According to The Telegraph, David Cameron is reported to have said: “This is the clearest demonstration of the Big Society in action – and I’m proud it’s a Conservative Government that will deliver it.”