Some 14% of respondents have taken time off work through annual or sick leave, reduced their working hours or given up a job to provide childcare for their grandchildren, according to research by Grandparents Plus, Save the Children, and The Family and Childcare Trust.
The Time to care: generation generosity under pressure research, which surveyed 2,044 British adults, including 617 who described themselves as grandparents or great grandparents, found that this figure rises to 23% for those who spend significant time caring for their grandchildren, and to 34% for those caring for more than ten hours a week.
It found that 3% of respondents who are grandparents have reduced the amount they save for a pension in order to financially support their grandchildren.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents who provide childcare to their grandchildren support an entitlement to unpaid leave from work to care for a sick grandchild, while 56% support unpaid leave to help parents with childcare.
More than half (59%) of wider respondents support the concept of grandparental leave to look after a sick grandchild and 51% support unpaid leave for childcare.
The research also found that 3% of respondents have reduced the amount they save for a pension in order to financially support their grandchildren.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “Grandparents are a hidden army of carers, giving a lifeline to parents who need to get back to work and who often cannot afford childcare. They need our recognition and support.
“This poll shows millions have cut their hours, taken time off or days off sick, or stopped working altogether to take the pressure off their own children. But it also shows a majority of public support to find ways to ease the pressure for grandparents, such as unpaid leave.
“This is generation generosity in action. In addition to the care they provide, grandparents are making huge financial contributions to support their grandchildren.
“It suggests we need to re-think working requirements for the ageing population, who are being expected to work longer and care more for grandchildren. This simply isn’t sustainable.”
Will Higham, director of UK poverty at Save the Children, added: “The failure of all parties to tackle the cost of childcare has conscripted a gran and granddads’ army to pick up the pieces.
“The reality is that many parents struggling on a low income are being priced out of using formal childcare and have no option but to give up work, or rely on friends and family.”
Anand Shukla, chief executive of The Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Up and down this country, grandparents provide much needed and heavily relied upon informal childcare for hard-pressed parents. Without them, many parents would not be able to go back or stay in work.
“Recognition of the role grandparents play is vital, but not everyone is lucky enough to have grandparents close by who can fill the gap created by unaffordable and inflexible childcare.
“Making sure all parents can access high-quality, affordable childcare when they need it must be a key priority for the government.”