The birth of a grandchild may be considered a priceless gift in itself, but for some grandparents it now comes with a new perk – an extra week off work.
Saga, the travel and insurance company for the over-50s, is to give employees a week of paid leave to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.
The company, which employs 2,500 staff, said it was introducing the policy in recognition that grandparents play an increasingly essential role in childcare while also building a work culture that appeals to the over-50s.
“This is about helping new grandparents celebrate a special moment and play a role in growing families from day one,” said Jane Storm, the chief people officer at Saga. “It is also a symbol of how important older workers are to their companies and society.
“Our customers are mostly over 50 and we want to have more colleagues here that reflect the community we serve. We also think this idea should be a key attraction for retention and recruitment.”
As part of the policy the grandchildren of all Saga staff will have access to its onsite nursery at its headquarters in Folkestone, Kent.
About 40% of grandparents aged over 50 provide regular childcare for their grandchildren, according to Age UK, and 71% of those between 50 and 64 are in work. The over-50s are also the fastest growing age demographic, with 28 million people expected to be in that bracket by 2030.
“Embracing family-friendly working practices makes business sense,” said Justine Roberts, the founder of the online community Gransnet. “Employers who recognise the fact that their employees have relationships and responsibilities outside of work will reap the rewards of increased loyalty and staff wellbeing.”
Saga is the latest company to introduce more flexible working policies for staff. In October, the online fashion store Asos introduced a range of policies to support employees who were “going through health-related life events”. These include taking leave at short notice, and paid leave for staff dealing with pregnancy loss, undergoing fertility treatment or experiencing the menopause.
In 2019, Channel 4 launched its own menopause policy in an effort to normalise the “taboo” subject and in May this year the online bank Monzo said it would provide paid leave for employees affected by the loss of a pregnancy.
Extending perks is also increasingly being viewed as a way to retain and attract staff in the face of the post-pandemic labour shortage and the empowerment of workers in a new culture where flexible working is now the norm.
Catchy policies include “pawternity” – essentially paid time off for looking after a new pet. Companies ranging from Mars, the parent company of petfood brands Whiskas and Pedigree, to the brewer BrewDog are offering “puppy parental leave”. According to the insurer Petplan, one in 20 new pet owners in the UK have been offered time off work to look after them.