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19 December 2013 09:10
Grandparents should be allowed to take unpaid leave from work to look after their grandchildren, a new study has urged
A study has claimed grandparents should be allowed to take unpaid leave from work to help increasing numbers who are looking after their grandchildren.
Nearly three in five grandparents give regular childcare, the TUC report found.
This is primarily so the child's parents can work without having to pay expensive nursery fees.
With unparalleled numbers of people today working into their late 60s, many are experiencing childcare responsibilities for a second time in their lives, the study found.
Grandparents needn't just look after their offspring's children at home, however.
They can take out trusted
over-60s travel insurance to bring their grandchildren on holiday or enjoy a well-deserved break themselves once the children are old enough to no longer need regular care.
Grandparents in work are more likely to look after their grandchildren than those who have retired, the report showed.
Some grandparents claimed they had been declined leave by their boss or did not feel they could ask.
The poll of 4,000 grandparents and 4,000 parents showed the rate of unpaid, informal childcare is saving families thousands of pounds a year.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady described the informal childcare that millions of grandparents frequently offer as "one of the most important and unheralded forms of care in Britain today".
But she said several firms have still to keep up with this trend and thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandchildren are unable to do so.
O'Grady added: "A new right to unpaid leave would be a great way to get more working grandparents involved in childcare, and at very little cost to an employer."
Chief executive of Grandparents Plus Sam Smethers warned it is time the Government and bosses caught up with the changing nature of family life.
Smethers said: "We risk a 'childcare gap' emerging, with parents paying the price, if grandparents cannot afford to reduce their hours or can't get the flexibility they need."
She said the solution is grand-parental leave and investment in formal childcare.
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