Introduction of Neonatal Leave and Pay is Historic Achievement

Posted on March 11, 2020

Bliss is delighted that today’s Budget includes a new neonatal leave and pay entitlement of around £160 per week for up to 12 weeks.

The announcement in today’s budget means that:

• Parents whose babies are in neonatal care for over a week will be entitled to statutory paid leave for every further week their baby is on the unit up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

• It will be available to parents of all babies in neonatal care, whether they were born premature or at term.

• The leave will be paid at a rate of around £160 per week.

• This will be in addition to other parental leave, like maternity and paternity leave.

• As with existing parental leave, the government will incur almost all of the cost, rather than businesses.

Bliss has been campaigning for an extension to statutory paid leave for parents whose babies are in neonatal care for many years. In 2013, our survey of over 1,800 parents found that each week on a neonatal unit cost parents an average of £282 parents largely through lost earnings, expensive hospital food, travel and accommodation costs.

Last year, another survey conducted by Bliss found that 66 per cent of dads had to return to work while their baby was still receiving specialist neonatal care and 36 per cent of dads resorted to being signed off sick in order to spend time with their baby on the neonatal unit.

This new entitlement will therefore mean that fathers and partners will not have to take annual and unpaid leave in order to stay with their child in hospital and mothers will also see their maternity leave extended.

Justin Irwin, Chief Executive at Bliss commented: “After many years of campaigning, we are delighted to see the Government agree to enact neonatal leave and pay. The difference it will make to the parents of roughly 40,000 babies every year cannot be overstated. It will relieve the additional stress of having to juggle looking after a baby in hospital with work, ease some of the financial pressure and, by allowing parents to be more involved in their baby’s care, will improve the health outcomes of premature or sick babies."

"However, we are disappointed to hear that it will not come into force until April 2023. So Bliss will be keeping up the pressure on the Government to make it available as soon as possible”.