Campaigners welcome neonatal progress, but call for swifter implementation

The Smallest Things has welcomed the passing of the final reading for the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, but says thousands will miss out if it is not implemented until April 2025, as expected.

Premature baby in hospital


Campaigners are urging the Government not to delay implementation of new legislation on neonatal care after it cleared the final approval stage today.

The Smallest Things has been campaigning for eight years for legislative change for families of premature babies. It says it is delighted to see the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill pass its final reading in the House of Lords.

The new legislation for neonatal leave and pay entitlements will apply to working parents of babies admitted to hospital up to the age of 28 days who have a continuous stay in hospital of seven days or more.

It states: “Much-needed additional leave and pay will enable parents to be with their baby or babies in hospital and give mums and dads the time they need to recover following the trauma of neonatal intensive care without the worry of additional financial pressures and returning to work too soon.”

However, it is reported that the new legislation will not be implemented until April 2025, which The Smallest Things calculates will mean 120,000 parents will miss out.

Catriona Ogilvy, Founder of The Smallest Things, says: “This new legislation will mean so much to families, giving them 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. That is why this news will be extremely difficult for families in neonatal care right now, and in the near future, who will not be able to access the new entitlements.

“We know that many parents return to work while their baby is still in hospital and use up a significant portion of their leave while their baby is in the neonatal unit. This impacts on the health and wellbeing of both parents and baby, and reduces the chances of a successful return to work.

“We are urging the Government to rethink the current implementation timeline and asking them to bring in this crucial entitlement with the urgency it needs.”

The Smallest Things is also asking family-friendly employers to go above and beyond the new statutory entitlements and not to wait to offer support to their employees. It is calling on them to  sign up to the charity’s Employer with Heart Charter 2.0 employers agree to extend paid leave for parents of premature babies. To date, 62 employers have already been awarded the Employer with Heart charter mark, including Santander, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Sony Music.

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