Election 2015

Election 2015: Grandparents could 'share parental leave'

Harriet Harman Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Harriet Harman says Labour is on the side of women

Working grandparents could share unpaid parental leave under plans being launched by the Labour Party.

The idea forms part of Labour's women's manifesto, which has been released as a separate document to the party's main pledges.

The manifesto also promises to tackle equality in pay and give more support for childcare and paternity leave.

Labour's Harriet Harman said the document was showing women the party was "on their side".

Ms Harman launched the manifesto accompanied by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, and shadow minister for women and equalities Gloria De Piero at the Stockwell Gardens Nursery in south London.

The trio arrived in the party's woman-to-woman pink mini-bus.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gloria de Piero was among the Labour MPs at the manifesto's launch

Ms Harman described Labour's new policy on grandparents as "incredibly important".

She said: "For so long until quite recently politics was just a bit of a men-only game so we need to highlight the fact that politicians are there for women and democracy is there for women as well as men.

"I think we are showing women that we are on their side and will stand up for them in government.

"But I think that what we are saying about grandparents and recognising how many families depend on grandparents to help with children while the parents are working, but also that those grandparents are not retired they are working now, they are working longer.

"And therefore this new policy on grandparents I think is going to be incredibly important."

Labour leader Ed Miliband told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour earlier that this was the first time a party had looked at grandparents, and said they were a "crucial part" to help over "summer holidays or when a child is sick".

When asked about whether he was assuming that older women could afford to work for free, Mr Miliband said that this was "about going with the grain of people's lives" and that the modern workplace needed to reflect "the reality of family life".

Currently parents can claim 18 weeks unpaid parental leave, or four weeks in any given year, per child up to their 18th birthday.

Labour's new idea, which would be consulted on should Labour win power on 7 May, would be to allow grandparents to share in the 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave, but again no more than four weeks in any one year.

The party is also planning to appoint a commissioner to enforce national standards on tackling domestic and sexual abuse, and provide more stable central funding for women's refuges and Rape Crisis Centres.

Policy guide: Where the parties stand

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