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Working grandparents with caring responsibilities are the focus of tomorrow's Usdaw spotlight day

Date: 16 May 2017 Usdaw’s Supporting Parents and Carers Spotlight Day on Wednesday 17 May 2017 will highlight the issues workers face when balancing work with caring responsibilities. The focus this year is on the vital role that grandparents play in providing childcare, asking people to consider the Difficult Balancing Act these workers face.
Across the country, Usdaw reps and activists will be campaigning in workplaces to highlight the 1.7 billion hours of childcare each year grandparents provide, estimated to be worth £3.9 billion. Usdaw research confirms that balancing paid work with caring for grandchildren is a priority issue for members aged 50 plus and affects one-fifth of Usdaw members aged under 50.

Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Many grandparents are juggling work with looking after grandchildren. Nearly two-thirds of all grandparents are regularly looking after grandchildren aged under 16. They make a huge difference to their families and wider society.

“Despite the vital role grandparents play in providing much needed informal childcare, their contribution is all too often overlooked by policy makers and Government. Not only is there a clear need to increase the availability and affordability of formal childcare to ease the pressure on grandparents but grandparents need better rights at work.

“Usdaw is campaigning for better support for grandparents to make it easier for them to balance paid work with caring responsibilities. Just as parents might need to change their hours of work to enable them to better balance paid work with childcare commitments, so too do grandparents.

“Usdaw believes it is about time that the important contribution grandparents make, both to their families and to the wider economy by providing childcare, should be recognised and supported by the Government, employers and policy makers.”

Usdaw is calling for better rights at work for grandparents, in particular the right to have:
  • their caring commitments taken into consideration when hours of work are being changed.
  • adjustment leave to give working grandparents time to deal with a family crisis without losing their job.
  • a period of grandparent leave that can be taken flexibly for instance after the birth of a new baby or when a grandchild is sick.
The experience of Usdaw members

One woman said on her survey form: “I have my grandchildren to stay for three, sometimes four nights a week. I do not have parental rights (do they look after themselves?). When I was told my hours of work would be changing I was told my caring responsibilities were my own choice and had nothing to do with work. Also having not worked Mondays for 10 years to be asked to change from Friday to a Monday is impossible due to grandchildren and other commitments. At the moment I have no choice but to reduce my hours which I simply cannot afford.”

Another member told us that she has recently started working a night shift so that in the day she can look after her grandchildren so her daughter can go out to work. She tries to have a nap in the daytime when the grandchildren sleep.

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest trade union with nearly 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw’s Older Workers Survey
  • Over a third of Usdaw members are aged over 50, there are almost twice as many women members than there are men.
  • Half of men and almost two thirds of women members in this age group are planning to work beyond State Pension Age.
  • Three quarters of women compared to less than two thirds of men identify financial reasons as the most influential factor in reaching this decision.
  • Only 5% said that financial considerations had nothing at all to do with their decision.
  • Half of all women and over a quarter of men are looking after grandchildren.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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