Thousands of parents whose babies require specialist care after birth will be able to take additional paid time off work, under new legislation backed by the government.
A baby who is born prematurely or sick will receive neonatal care in a hospital or another agreed care setting – often for a prolonged period of time. This can put parents in a difficult position of having to use their existing leave entitlements to be by their baby’s side, or worse, having to return to work while their baby is still receiving hospital care.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, introduced by Stuart C McDonald MP and backed by the government, will allow parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave, so that they can spend more time with their baby at what is a hugely stressful time.
Once in law, neonatal care leave will be available to employees from their first day in a new job and will apply to parents of babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of 7 full days or more.
As many parents across the UK are facing a rising cost of living, today’s reforms will help ease future pressures on families whose children require neonatal care by ensuring they aren’t forced with the choice of taking unpaid leave or continuing working. As well as supporting families, it will also help employers who want to better support their staff.