Home News & eventsNews Statement on the second reading of the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

Statement on the second reading of the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

Published: 15 Jul 2022

a premature baby lies in a neonatal incubator in hospital

From Jane van Zyl, CEO of Working Families:

“Working Families is delighted to support the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill. We have worked alongside Stuart McDonald MP and Bliss on this much-needed legislation, which will provide additional leave and pay for employees caring for infants receiving neonatal care.

We have long called for an entitlement to neonatal leave and pay, which will be a lifeline to the parents of the 50,000 babies each year who spend more than one week in neonatal care. For many families, the inflexibility of current parental leave laws exacerbates the traumatic time experienced by parents of babies who need extra care in hospital. On our free legal advice helpline, we have heard from many parents who have been forced to make the impossible choice between visiting their sick baby and keeping their job and income.  This is a choice that no parent should have to make.

Not only is this bill essential for parents and carers, but it is also good for business.  Ninety-nine percent of the employers that responded to the Government’s consultation were in favour of neonatal leave and pay. The current absence of a dedicated neonatal leave and pay entitlement means that many parents are using sick leave to spend time with their babies. This is not sustainable, and is costing employers significant sums of money as they cannot reclaim statutory sick pay. Under this bill, employers would be able to reclaim the cost of neonatal pay, representing a significant saving.

This bill is a huge step forward and will enable thousands of parents and carers to be there for their babies without the fear of losing income or employment. In the future, Working Families hopes this legislation could be expanded to include those on different types of employment contracts—not just employees.”