Conservatives announce intentions concerning working flexibility, grandparents and the modern family.
As the conservative party conference in Manchester launches into full swing, Chancellor George Osborne has declared his intentions to allow working grandparents the right to take time off and share parental leave pay to help care for their grandchildren.
The plan marks a shift from the current shared parental leave – currently permitting 52 weeks off for mother or father – to cover grandparents too.
This is a welcome, and arguably, well overdue initiative and shows the government finally recognising the working realities of a modern day family.
Evidence indicates that nearly 2 million grandparents have made sacrifices including giving up work or reducing working hours to help with child care arrangements. The aim is to implement the policy in 2018 and has been framed towards single working mothers.
The Conservatives are keen to encourage grandparents to bridge the gap when families are struggling to balance the pressures of child care costs and the work.
The concept opens wider discussions surrounding the idea of flexible family arrangements and recognition for the day to day struggles many parents face.
The key concept here is flexibility. Being a family lawyer, I am all too familiar with the intricate juggling act parents face following the breakdown of a relationship. In the eyes of the law, the welfare of a child is the paramount consideration when deciding on child arrangements and while it is true that the time a child spends with each parent is precious, practically and realistically speaking, the support provided by friends and family (including grandparents) is indispensable.
The courts are keen to endorse the concept of flexibility. That being said, that is not to distract from the benefits in maintaining a sense of stability and routine, but there are real benefits to building in a degree of flexibility.
Maguire Family Law recognises there is no such thing as one size fits all in relation to any family or child. Likewise, there is no secret ingredient or determinative factor that will guarantee the success of any child care arrangements in place. However, one thing is clear, flexibility is certainly a core factor towards establishing successful child care arrangements.
As a family lawyer experienced in dealing with families at the peak of crisis, unfortunately, when a relationship between parents breaks down, it is easy to lose sight of the need for flexibility and compromise when discussing child arrangements. My role is to encourage families to reach a resolution and whenever possible, to avoid court. There is no doubt that the concepts of flexibility and practicality of arrangements is key to successful day to day arrangements.
The extension of shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents sits comfortably with the concept of flexible parenting arrangements. The policy is a step in the right direction to help families’ structure arrangements in ways that best works for them.