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The Government has announced plans to work with employers to develop guidelines on how to support working mothers who give birth to premature babies.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will work with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and invite the views of premature baby charities to develop guidelines for employers on how to support their staff.
It says the guidance, to be published on ACAS’ website, will make it easier for both working parents and employers to access advice and will cover everything from how employers can offer flexible working arrangements following a premature birth to how to handle requests for additional time off.
Business Minister Margot James said: “While most employers treat their staff with compassion, it’s incredibly important that they know how best to support their staff at what can be a very difficult time for working parents.
“New and expectant mothers must feel confident of their rights in the workplace and this new guidance will go some way to offering those reassurances.”
The announcement follows a campaign by The Smallest Things #NotMatLeave campaign. Founder and Chair of The Smallest Things, Catriona Ogilvy said: “This is wonderful news and recognises the overwhelming support The Smallest Things campaign has received. This Mothers Day weekend 7,000 mothers will have visited their baby in neonatal care, uncertain for the future. The guidance and recognition from the government of what is a highly stressful and difficult time will offer hope and reassurance to thousand of families beginning their journey through neonatal care each year.
“The impact on families of a baby being born prematurely lasts for many, many years and The Smallest Things will keep on working to support and raise awareness of these needs.”
A petition set up by Ogilvy calling for extended leave now has over 128,000 signatures.