Kinship care support is now available for Tesco employees with Special Guardianship Order (SGO). In a recent publication, the supermarket giant established this move as part of a new batch of family-friendly policies to benefit over 300,000 workers.
This makes Tesco the first in the industry to offer this type of support. Kinship carers often do not have the same support and benefits that parents have at work. The introduction of these policies signifies a positive move towards more recognition of non-traditional households and family units.
Tesco’s New Family-Friendly Policies
The support offered to kinship carer workers is by offering them 26 weeks of kinship leave on full pay, which is equal to adoption leave. This new kinship leave will apply to those who have obtained SGOs from a family court, which gives the ability for a child to be raised by grandparents, relatives or family friends while still in contact with their birth parents. This policy recognises kinship carers as parental figures, which is currently lacking in many employers across industries.
Other than kinship leave, Tesco announced the following changes to family-related policies:
- Improved maternity leave to 26 weeks with full pay
- Up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal leave
- Fertility leave extended to partners as well as birth mothers of up to 5 days paid leave per treatment cycle
- Adoption leave improved to 26 weeks on full pay, and
- Paid leave for two weeks for the loss of a baby pre-24 weeks of pregnancy
The introduction of kinship leave at Tesco began with Taylor Kershaw who is currently in the Employer Brand Team at Tesco who raised awareness of the cause. She is particularly passionate about this issue as she is a kinship carer herself.
What is Kinship Care?
Kinship care is a type of care arrangement in which a child lives full-time or most of the time with a relative or close family friend, usually because their parents are not able to care for them. This is an important part of the UK childcare system, with over 180,000 children in this arrangement at any given time.
Grandparents are the most common carers, but older siblings, aunts, uncles, and other relatives can also take on the role. Kinship carers may also be close family friends or neighbours.
There are a number of reasons why a child might be placed in this arrangement. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Parental illness or substance abuse
- Parental death
- Parental incarceration
- Domestic violence
- Neglect or abuse
This can provide children with a safe and loving home environment when their parents are unable to care for them. It can also help to maintain the child’s connection to their family and community.
There are a number of different types of these arrangements. Some kinship carers are informal, meaning that they do not have any legal responsibility for the child. Other kinship carers are formal, meaning that they have parental responsibility through a court order.
Kinship Care in the UK
Kinship care is an important part of the child care system in the UK, with over 180,000 children living with relatives or close family friends because their parents are unable to care for them.
According to the 2021 Census, 1.1% of children aged 0 to 17 years living in households of five people or fewer were living in this household arrangement. This equates to around 121,000 children.
The majority of children in kinship care (59.2%) lived with at least one grandparent. This reflects the fact that grandparents are the most common kinship carers. However, older siblings, aunts, uncles, and other relatives can also take on the role.
Children living in this arrangement are more likely to have special needs than children in the general population. More than 1 in 10 (11.9%) children living in kinship care were disabled under the Equality Act, compared with 6.6% of children living in a household of five people or fewer with at least one parent.
These households are also more likely to be overcrowded and to contain residents with long-term health conditions. A quarter (25.3%) of kinship care households contained one or more residents whose long-term physical or mental health condition or illness limited them a lot, compared with 10.0% of parental households. A higher proportion of households containing kinship care were overcrowded (14.2%) than households containing people aged 17 years and under with parents (8.3%).
Kinship carers play a vital role in providing children with a safe and loving home when their parents are unable to care for them. However, they also face a number of challenges, including financial difficulties, lack of support services, and the stress of caring for a child who has experienced trauma.
The UK government provides a range of support services to kinship carers, including financial assistance, access to training and support groups, and help with legal and practical issues. However, more needs to be done to support kinship carers and to ensure that children in these arrangements have the best possible outcomes.