Proposed change to parental leave is huge step forward

Posted on July 19, 2019

Dad holding baby with baby gripping dad's finger

Bliss is delighted with news that today Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a consultation calling for views on changes to parental leave for the parents of premature and sick babies in neonatal care.

The government is looking to introduce a new Neonatal Leave and Pay entitlement for parents who need to spend a prolonged period in neonatal care following birth. The entitlement would mean mothers, fathers and partners receive one week of Neonatal Leave and Pay for every week that their baby is in hospital. It is exactly what Bliss has been campaigning for.

Josie Anderson, Campaigns and Policy Manager at Bliss, said: “We are delighted to wake up to news that the government has launched a consultation looking at changes to parental leave entitlement.

"Current parental leave laws do not offer any flexibility or extra support to parents who find their world turned upside down when their baby is in neonatal care. Many parents, dads and partners in particular, often have no choice but to return to work while their baby is still in hospital, limiting the amount of hands-on care they can provide to their baby.

"The government’s proposal to give parents an extra week of paid leave for every week their baby is in neonatal care is exactly what Bliss has been campaigning for. It’s a huge step forward that if it became a reality would make a world of difference for babies born premature and sick and their families.”

A Bliss survey found that 66 per cent of dads had to return to work while their baby was still receiving specialist neonatal care. The survey of 737 parents also found that 36 per cent of dads resorted to being signed off sick in order to spend time with their baby on the neonatal unit.

The new entitlement would mean that fathers and partners will no longer need to rely on taking annual and unpaid leave if their child is in hospital for longer than their paternity leave period.

Bliss will be responding to the consultation to see the entitlement become a reality, but today’s announcement brings us one step closer.