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Calls for transferable system of ‘granny leave’

A recent report from think tank IPPR has called for additional support for the thousands of women in their 50s who have to balance work and care responsibilities.

The so-called ‘sandwich generation’ – who are caring for both their grandchildren and their elderly parents – are taking career breaks to become full-time carers and then finding it impossible to get another job before their own retirement age.

The report shows that older women are far more likely to provide care than men and this has a significant impact on work. By the age of 59, there is a 50/50 chance that women will have had at least one period of sustained caring responsibility. IPPR’s report shows that 17% of unemployed women gave up work to care, compared to just 1% of men. Latest figures show there are 152,000 women over 50 who are unemployed and looking for work, almost twice as many as there were at the start of the recession in 2008. There are 68,000 women over 50 who have been unemployed and looking for work for more than a year.

The report also reveals that caring responsibilities combined with discrimination have created a gender pay gap of close to a fifth between older women and men.

IPPR’s report argues that up to six months of transferable parental leave should be transferrable to a nominated working grandparent, in specific circumstances. This would mean that grandparents would have a statutory entitlement to return to their jobs.

Dalia Ben-Galim, IPPR Associate Director, said:

“Women over 50 are increasingly having to juggle responsibilities: childcare to help their grown-up children, social care for their own elderly parents and work to pay the bills and make ends meet. Allowing parents to transfer some of their parental leave to their children’s grandparents would help more women in their 50s to stay in work.”

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