Staff with newborns in neonatal care 'could be entitled to paid leave'

Glasgow councillors are being encouraged to implement paid leave to support employees.

Glasgow council staff with newborns in neonatal care ‘could be entitled to paid leave’ iStock

Council staff facing the struggle of having a newborn is in neonatal care could soon be entitled to paid leave in Glasgow.

City councillors are being encouraged to take immediate steps to implement paid leave to support employees with premature or “full term sick babies” in neonatal care.

A new nationwide policy on neonatal care which includes the paid leave was passed earlier this year and is expected to come into effect in April 2025 following years of campaigning for legislative change by charity Bliss Scotland and the Smallest Things organisation.

And Bliss Scotland, whose mission is to champion the right for every baby born premature or sick to receive the best care, welcomed Glasgow’s ambition to offer paid leave to staff affected as soon as possible.

Once in place, the statutory neonatal care leave will apply to employees whose babies are in hospital for a week or more and within 28 days of being born.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive of Bliss said: “After so many years of campaigning, we are absolutely thrilled that neonatal leave and pay finally became law in May 2023.

“This will make a huge difference to around 60,000 parents every year, and to their babies.

“It will relieve the additional stress of having to juggle looking after a critically ill baby in hospital with work, ease some of the financial pressure and, by allowing parents to be more involved in their baby’s care, improve the health outcomes of premature and sick babies.”

Parents will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave depending on the length of time their baby is in neonatal care and will have 68 weeks from the date of their baby’s birth to benefit from the leave.

Statutory Neonatal Care Pay will also be available to employees with 26 weeks continuous service and is expected to be paid at the same standard rate as other family leave – currently £172.48 per week.

The local authority is also being urged to align itself to the best practice standards and guidance set out in the ‘Employer with Heart’ Charter 2.0 and providing employees, who have premature babies, an extra weeks’ leave at full pay for every week until their baby’s official due date.

Ms Lee-Davey added: “At Bliss, we know that the vast majority of employers want to provide more support to their employees if they have a baby admitted to neonatal care – they just lack a framework to do so.

“The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act provides an excellent opportunity to support employees during a challenging period of their lives.

“However, the delay in its implementation will be hugely disappointing for parents whose baby is admitted to neonatal care between now and April 2025, when the entitlement comes into effect.

“It is therefore really heartening to hear about employers who are choosing to implement a neonatal leave and pay policy as soon as possible.

“By doing so, employers will: ensure that the leave parents take is predictable (as far as it can be) for them as well as for the employer; improve retention by giving parents the time they need before returning to work; improve their offer to prospective employees by including neonatal leave and pay as part of their benefits package; and, most of all, help their employees focus on their job when they’re back at work – rather than worrying about a baby still unwell in hospital.”

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