Grandparents are picking up the strain that families are under by providing an increasing amount of childcare, according to a new survey.
More than half a million grandparents in the South West provide regular childcare for their grandchildren aged under 16, according to the YouGov poll.
Published as part of the TUC’s Age Immaterial investigation, the poll shows that nearly three in five grandparents provide regular childcare without the child’s parents present.
The TUC estimates the informal care provided by millions of grandparents is saving working families thousands of pounds a year on costly nursery and childminding fees.
The survey also shows that working grandparents are more likely to look after their grandchildren than retired grandparents, with many taking on childcare responsibilities for a second time while still working.
The TUC said it wants grandparents to have greater entitlement to unpaid leave so they can combine looking after grandchildren with their jobs.
Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC, said: “The informal childcare that millions of grandparents regularly provide is one of the most important and unheralded forms of care in Britain today. The childcare provided by grandparents allows mums and dads to work, saves them money on nursery and childminder fees, and creates a special bond across different generations in a family.
“But with more people than ever before working into their late 60s, millions of grandparents are selflessly taking on childcare responsibilities for a second time while they still work. Many businesses have yet to keep up with this trend and thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandkids are prevented from doing so. It’s important that public policy catches up with the needs of working grandparents and their families. 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.”
The Children and Families Bill reaches report stage at the House of Lords today (Tuesday) providing the Government an opportunity to introduce unpaid leave for grandparents.
Chief executive of Grandparents Plus, Sam Smethers, said: “Family life is changing and it’s time that government and employers caught up. The solution is a period of grandparental leave and an investment in formal childcare.”