Government backs new law to give extra paid leave to parents whose babies need specialist care after birth

The government is supporting a bill that will give parents of newborns who need specialized care extended paid leave.

Under new government-backed legislation today, thousands of parents whose newborns need specialist care after birth will be entitled to extended paid leave (Friday July 15).

A baby born prematurely or with a medical condition will receive neonatal care in a hospital or other place where treatment is agreed, often for a long time.

Parents can find themselves in a difficult situation where they have to take advantage of any available time off to be by their child’s side, or even worse, where they have to return to work while their child is still being treated in hospital.

As part of the government’s support for Stuart C. McDonald’s Newborn Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, which was introduced today, parents will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave, allowing them to spend more time with their newborn during a very stressful time.

When it becomes law, employees will have access to neonatal care leave from the day they start a new job.

It will also apply to parents of infants admitted to hospital up to 28 days of age who have a continuous hospital stay of 7 full days or more.

Today’s amendments will reduce future burdens on families whose infants need neonatal care by preventing them from being forced to choose between taking unpaid leave or continuing to work, especially since many parents in UK are struggling with rising living costs.

It will help businesses that want to better support their staff as well as families.

Jane Hunt, Minister for Business:

For parents, having a newborn in neonatal care is a very stressful time. No family should have to worry about returning to work or how much time they have accumulated.

I believe that by fully supporting this bill, we can allay a concern for new parents and provide them with the extra paid time off they need to care for their sick child.

With up to 12 weeks of paid leave for each parent, the reforms will be of great help to parents across the UK.

39 weeks of paid maternity leave is often not enough for mothers of children who spend a lot of time in hospital during their early years as they have to return to work.

By extending the length of paid leave available to fathers and partners beyond the standard 2 weeks of paternity leave, the legislative amendment will also ensure they have the freedom to divide childcare duties.

It will also work well with shared parental leave and the flexibility it provides, allowing both parents to put their children and family first during this invaluable time immediately following childbirth.

Stuart C. McDonald, MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, said:

No parent should have to choose between taking full advantage of maternity leave and returning to work, or between staying with their premature or sick child in neonatal care and having to work to support their family.

With the cost of living on the rise, it is more crucial than ever to get the law reformed quickly to ensure parents of infants in neonatal care get the paid time off and support they need during an exceptionally difficult time.

With the support of Bliss and families across Scotland and the UK, I am delighted to introduce this bill.

Caroline Lee-Davey, CEO of Bliss, said:

We are delighted that the Neonatal Care (Leave and Remuneration) Bill has received government support and passed second reading in Parliament.

After years of advocacy, this is a tremendous victory that will allow tens of thousands of parents to benefit from paid leave every year when their child is seriously ill in hospital.

We are aware of the importance of this right for families and the impact it will have on young children.

Thousands of parents are forced to either return to work while their child is in hospital or spend most of their maternity leave next to an incubator.

We are on the verge of providing many parents with much needed time to be by their baby’s side in hospital after today’s progress.

To ensure this bill becomes law as soon as possible, we look forward to working with MP Stuart McDonald, the government and MPs from all parties in the future.

We are aware that there is still work to be done to complete the passage of the bill in Parliament.

The government has already put in place a set of policies to help the lowest income and most vulnerable families.

The National Living Wage was raised by the government earlier this year to £9.50 per hour, an increase of £1,000 per year for a full-time employee.

A major campaign encouraging employees to check their pay is currently in effect.

About Tammy N. McFarlane

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