Supporting parents of premature babies

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Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


A new law that should ease pressures on some new parents is making its way through parliament.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill is designed to help new parents of premature babies by enabling them to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to be with their child. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity, and other parental rights. The new entitlements will apply from day one of employment, and to parents of babies who are hospitalised for seven days or more during their first 28 days of life.

Against the backdrop of the rising cost of living, the reforms are intended to help families whose children need neonatal care by ensuring they aren’t forced to choose between taking unpaid leave or returning to work while their child stays in the hospital. The government also says that the new provisions will help employers that want to better support their employees.

This is a really important point. It can often be difficult for employers to know what to do to help staff who are going through problems in their personal lives. Employer clients often tell us they’re worried about saying the wrong thing, being intrusive, and simply being unsure about how best to balance the needs of the business and the needs of the employee. When highly personal matters are in play, the stakes are raised (in all respects). And managers and HR need to be confident in handling the situation sensitively and in a way that offers meaningful support to the employee.

This new law will provide a useful starting point. It will also help by bringing the subject of premature birth and the pressures this puts on families to employers’ attention. It should further encourage businesses to take employees’ struggles on board. And it should prompt a review of policies and procedures to ensure not just that the new provisions are covered, but that the mechanisms of support a business offers its staff are comprehensive, understood, and properly implemented.

Although the Bill is making good progress, the new law’s introduction isn’t particularly imminent. These things take time. But we’ll be sure to revisit this when there are more developments. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss a parental leave situation or any other workplace matter, please contact us at 01264 353411 or">

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