We talked to Saga – the first UK employer to introduce grandparents’ leave – to find out how it has been received.
In 2021 Saga was the first company to introduce grandparents’ leave. We asked Roisin Mackenzie, People Director of Colleague Experience and Culture, how the policy was received.
The decision happened organically for us as a business. Our customers are over the age of 50 and as a company we are passionate about pushing boundaries and challenging ageism where we see it. We know that active ‘grandparenting’ is something that 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 that 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 and if we can make things easier for them, then it’s really a no-brainer.
All Saga employees are granted a week of paid leave, separate from their holiday allowance, when their grandchild (or great grandchild) is born. The policy applies equally to first and all subsequent grandchildren born.
We’ve been really pleased with the uptake and popularity 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 female than male colleagues take the leave so far, but it’s a policy that is open to everyone across the organisation.
We gather feedback regularly from colleagues via our ongoing listening strategy and so far this has been really encouraging, with colleagues saying that they love spending the time with their new 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.
Individuals in their 50s, 60s and right up into their 70s and 80s are still active and making significant contributions to organisations, their families and wider society. Working life for many is also getting longer, but far too often the first question asked to someone over 50 is ‘when are you going to retire?’. It’s time to change that mindset and recognise that many people are now working longer, embarking upon second careers, or starting their own businesses well past the age of 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 being the first UK company to introduce grandparents’ leave.
We regularly review all of our people policies and run feedback sessions to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Feedback from colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive; our people are proud to work for a business that positively celebrates and supports older colleagues.
Encouragingly, yes, we have had a number of organisations reach out to us in order to better understand the policy and find out what the feedback has been from colleagues. We hope to see other companies follow in our footsteps in the future and for this to spark broader societal conversations about the roles and values of people aged 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 to remain in work if they so choose, including those who may be grandparents.