An SNP MP is introducing a Neonatal Leave & Pay Bill in Parliament today after legislation to help parents of premature babies was left out of the Queen’s Speech by the government.
A Neonatal Leave & Pay Bill will be introduced in Parliament today which includes a right to additonal paid time off work for parents and carers of babies admitted to neonatal care.
Neonatal Leave & Pay has been promised since the 2020 Budget, but was left out of the Queen’s Speech where it was due to be part of the Employment Bill. The new Bill will be introduced by SNP MP Stuart McDonald, but very few such Bills become law.
Catriona Ogilvy, Founder of The Smallest Things which has been campaigning for the leave for seven years, says: “This legislation will give families the emotional and financial support they need at a time of great stress and trauma. No parent should be sitting next to an incubator or neonatal cot worrying about work and pay.
“Each year more than 100,000 premature and sick babies are admitted into UK neonatal units. There is currently no allowance for parents of these babies who can spend weeks or months in hospital before going home. Many parents return to work while their baby is still in hospital and many mothers spend a significant portion of their maternity leave in the neonatal unit. Time spent in neonatal care should not be spent as maternity or paternity leave.”
More than 357,000 people have signed The Smallest Things’ petition to extend paid parental leave since 2015. More than 80% of parents say the neonatal journey doesn’t end when their baby or babies leave the hospital: over half
of babies are readmitted and 71% worry about the long-term outcomes for their child. Almost a quarter of parents are diagnosed with PTSD after time in a neonatal unit.”
The Smallest Things is urging the government to take the Neonatal Leave & Pay Bill forward. Meanwhile, Wendy Chamberlain from the Liberal Democrats says she is going to introduce a Private Member’s Bill that would give individuals with caring responsibilities the right to five unpaid days off per year. This was also something that would have featured in the Employment Bill.