Workingwise.co.uk talks to one employer who introduced grandparents’ leave – Saga – and finds out how it was received.
Saga was the first company to introduce grandparents’ leave in 2021. Workingwise.co.uk spoke to Roisin Mackenzie, People Director of Colleague Experience and Culture to find out how the policy has been received.
Workingwise.co.uk: Why did you introduce grandparent leave?
Roisin Mackenzie: The decision to introduce grandparents’ leave happened organically for us as a business. At Saga our customers are over the age of 50, and we are passionate about pushing boundaries and challenging ageism where we see it. We know that ‘grandparenting’ is something many people across the UK, and amongst our own colleagues, juggle alongside work.
According to Age UK, 40% of grandparents over the age of 50 provide regular childcare for their grandchildren so for us it felt like the right thing to do to ensure they, and their families, are supported to spend this precious time with their families. This is particularly important as we look to encourage more and more people over the age of 50 to come and work with us. If we can make things easier for them, then it’s really a no brainer.
WW: What does it involve?
RM: All Saga employees are given a week of paid leave, separate from their holiday allowance, when their grandchild (or great grandchild) is born. The policy applies to first and all subsequent grandchildren born.
WW: What has the take-up been? Are more women than men taking it up or is it evenly spread?
RM: We’ve been really pleased with the uptake of the policy so far. To date, 24 colleagues from across both the operational and non-operational sides of the business have taken grandparents’ leave. We’ve seen more women colleagues take the leave, but it’s a policy that is open to everyone.
WW: Have you modified the policy since introducing it or do you have any plans to do so?
RM: We regularly gather feedback from colleagues via our ongoing listening strategy and the feedback so far has been really encouraging, with colleagues saying they love spending the time with their grandchildren and being able to support their families through the early stages of parenthood.
Importantly, we don’t simply see the policy as a benefit to our colleagues. We see it as a statement about how we value age in the workplace. People in their 50s, 60s and right into their 70s and 80s are active and making significant contributions to their organisations, families and wider society. Working life is also getting longer, but too often the first question to someone over 50 is ‘when are you going to retire?’. It’s time to change that mindset and recognise many people are working longer, starting second careers, or businesses of their own well past 50. We need far more flexibility in the workplace, which we know our colleagues appreciate, and we were delighted to lead on this change by introducing grandparents’ leave as a UK first.
WW: How are you monitoring it?
RM: We continue to review all of our people policies and run regular feedback sessions to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
WW: What has the feedback been?
RM: Feedback from colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive. Colleagues are proud to work for a business that positively celebrates and supports older colleagues.
WW: Have you had any interest from other employers who are thinking of introducing it?
RM: Yes, encouragingly, we have had a number of organisations reach out to better understand the policy and what the feedback has been from colleagues. We hope to see other companies follow in our footsteps and for this to spark broader societal conversations about the roles and values of people over 50. Employers who recognise that their employees have relationships and responsibilities outside of work must continue to challenge the status quo and support all colleagues remain in work if they choose, including those who may be grandparents.