Neonatal Leave and Pay Campaign

Mum sat on a hospital chair with her baby resting on her chest. In the background is an incubator and monitor

On 15th June 2022, Stuart McDonald MP introduced the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill to Parliament.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill aims to provide additional leave and pay for employees with responsibility for children receiving neonatal care. This will enable parents to spend vital time with their babies if they are born premature or sick without the worry of returning to work.

Next step: Second Reading is scheduled for Friday 15th July

Parliamentary briefing

Download the briefing for Members of Parliament about the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

Why do parents need extra paid time off work for neonatal care?

One in seven babies born in the UK receive some level of neonatal care shortly after birth. While some of these babies will receive just days of care, many will remain in hospital for weeks or months. Around 50,000 babies in the UK spend more than one week in neonatal care after birth.

  • For many families the inflexibility of current parental leave laws exacerbates these issues and adds to the stress for the whole family.
  • Fathers and non-birthing parents are routinely excluded from their baby’s care by the parental leave system as they have to return to work after two weeks.
  • Mothers and birthing-parents miss out on time at home with their baby, and often don't feel ready to return to work at the end of their maternity leave
  • Bliss research has found that among the seven in ten families with a significant neonatal stay, at least one parent returned to work while their baby or babies were still in hospital.
  • The additional financial strain of a neonatal admission means that taking unpaid leave is completely unaffordable for many families with more than half of families reporting that their finances was a barrier to being involved in their baby's care

Neonatal Leave and Pay - background

Neonatal Leave and Pay was a Conservative Manifesto commitment at the 2019 election. The Government went on to include the proposal in the March 2020 Budget.

The Government consulted on proposals in 2019 and their response to the consultation committed to:

  1. Introduce leave for parents of babies in neonatal care
  2. Introduce statutory pay for parents of babies in neonatal care
  3. Legislate to implement the entitlement and the relevant commitments we are making in the forthcoming Employment Bill

The Employment Bill has, however, never been introduced.

Although the Government has not brought forward the required legislation, a bill has now been introduced which seeks to deliver on their commitment by SNP MP, Stuart McDonald.

Families will be entitled to paid leave if:

  • They meet the minimum service and earning requirements
  • Their baby is cared for in a health setting for more than 1 week before they reach 28 days of life

Leave and pay will last a maximum of 12 weeks.

We need at least 100 MPs to go and support the Bill through its next stage on Friday 15th July.

If you would like more information about this campaign or the Second Reading, please contact Beth McCleverty at bmccleverty@bliss.org.uk.