Grandparents leave on the agenda in ACT

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Grandparents leave on the agenda in ACT

Public servants in the ACT may soon be able to apply for up to 12 months unpaid leave to look after their grandchildren.

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Public servants in the ACT may soon be able to apply for up to 12 months unpaid leave to look after their grandchildren.

Chief Minister, John Stanhope, said today that as part of a strategy of retaining mature-age workers and improving family-friendly conditions and flexibility he had asked the Commissioner for Public Administration to look at granting unpaid leave to enable grandparents to look after grandchildren up to the age of two.

‘The Government is acutely conscious of the need to maximise labour-force participation by all Canberrans, to tackle current and looming skill shortages and as an important plank in our commitment to improve social inclusion,’ Stanhope said.

He said he had been asked by the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing to formally include grandparental leave among the grounds for unpaid leave.

Grandparents look after 660,000 kids

Stanhope said that 2005 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that grandparents were delivering childcare services to more than 660,000 Australian children. Grandparents cared for more than half of the one year-olds who depended on child care and almost 40% of five year-olds.

Almost all of the childcare undertaken by grandparents was provided at no cost.

‘Our ageing workforce, and our need to retain older workers for longer, means that over time we will need to provide working conditions that better suit mature-age workers,’ Stanhope said. ‘Already, roughly three-quarters of ACT public servants are aged over 35. Indeed, only one agency has a majority of employees aged less than 35.

‘It is crucial that we create the working conditions that will allow employees the flexibility to balance their work and home lives and it may be that access to grandparental leave will be one of the options that will allow more ACT public servants to achieve that balance.’

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