The government has made a commitment to introduce a new form of statutory leave. Neonatal leave and pay will apply to all parents of babies receiving neonatal care. The idea is to allow for 12 weeks’ paid leave so that parents do not have to choose between caring for their newborn baby and returning to the workplace.
The government have stated that “Neonatal care is the type of care that a baby who is born prematurely or sick receives in hospital. Children in neonatal care often have significant health or development issues that require specialist medical attention.” The aim of the proposals is to ease the burden of this “incredibly worrying and stressful” time.
This commitment was made in March 2020 but it is thought this will not be in force until 2023. The details of this legislation are yet to be fleshed out but it is likely that it will be in addition to maternity and paternity leave and will be available to take in blocks of at least one week at a time. Additionally, the pay is likely to be at the statutory level and will be available to employees who have had a minimum of 12 weeks’ service while the leave can be taken from day one.
It is still to be confirmed who exactly can take this form of leave – for instance could a single mother nominate a grandparent of the child to receive this leave and accompany her at the hospital? It has been established that the neonatal leave will only apply to the caregivers of babies who are 28 days or younger who have been in hospital for one week or more.
It is anticipated that the notice for neonatal leave will be considered by way of a two-tier approach. If the leave is taken very soon after the baby is admitted to hospital the notice requirements will be minimal, but it is likely that a week’s notice will be necessary if the leave is taken some time after the baby has been admitted.
This is the latest in a series of family friendly initiatives the government is introducing. It is important that employers are aware of their obligations and can plan for these eventualities. Training for managers should be provided and it is wise to consider the implementation of appropriate policies in due course.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.