David Linden MP brings forward Private Member’s Bill to extend parental leave for parents of premature and sick babies

Posted on June 12, 2019

Baby being comforted by parent in hospital

Today David Linden MP will bring forward a Private Member’s Bill to extend parental leave for parents whose babies need neonatal care after they are born.

This follows a letter from Bliss, alongside other leading baby charities and MPs, to Minister Kelly Tolhurst last week expressing our growing concern that the Government is back tracking on commitments to publish the findings of its review into parental leave provision for parents of premature, sick or multiples who need neonatal care.

The Parental Leave (Premature and Sick Babies) Bill seeks to make it a requirement by law for parents of premature or sick babies to be entitled to additional parental leave. Current parental leave laws are rigid, and do not offer any flexibility or extra support to parents who find their world turned upside down by a neonatal experience.

Bliss is campaigning for both parents to receive an extra statutory paid week of leave for every week their baby spends in neonatal care because we know how difficult this time is for families – and how much of difference this additional flexibility would make. Family finances are frequently impacted by a neonatal experience resulting in many parents, dads and partners in particular, having 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.

A Bliss survey from earlier this year showed:

  • A quarter of fathers had to choose between taking time off when their baby was in neonatal care, or when their baby went home
  • 77 per cent of parents felt like their parental leave was not long enough, with this figure rising to 90 per cent of parents whose baby spent 10 or more weeks in neonatal care
  • Half of all parents would have liked to take more parental leave but couldn’t afford to take any longer off work
  • 24 per cent of dads said they were concerned for their job if they asked for more time off

Bliss Interim Chief Executive, Justin Irwin said, ‘’After a deeply disappointing response from the Government to the recent review of parental leave provisions for parents of premature, sick or multiple babies, we are delighted that David Linden MP has decided to take matters into his own hands by bringing forward this Private Member’s Bill.

‘’We are looking forward to working closely with David and supporting his Bill as it progresses. In the meantime, we urge the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to put premature and sick babies, and their families, first by rethinking their decision not to publish the advice that makes up the review. No parent should have to worry about returning to work while their baby is sick in hospital – but without action, this is the reality for thousands of families every year.’’