New hope for parents of premature babies as parental leave could be set to extend

A Bill proposing to make the statutory parental leave more flexible for parents whose babies are born prematurely or are very sick has passed its first reading.

The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Premature and Sick Babies, David Linden MP, explained that “many parents who face the brutal choice of having to return to work whilst their child is still in hospital.”

He highlighted the fact that in some cases a child might be born very prematurely and could “spend weeks on neonatal intensive care units”. In such cases, parental leave, particularly paternal leave, is often grossly inadequate

“Existing UK employment legislation takes no account of the fact that some babies will spend much longer in hospital after being born, especially if they’re born premature or sick,” he said.

The MP for Glasgow East spoke from personal experience in regard to his own children, both of whom were born prematurely and spent weeks in intensive care. The fact that parental leave was so limited forced him back to work whilst his child was still in the hospital.

This simple but important initiative did not receive any opposition and will help, if it becomes law, relieve pressure on parents who have a very sick or premature baby.

Clare McCarthy of Right To Life UK said:

“Ten Minute Rule Bills rarely become law, so we are calling on the Government to commit to introducing new legislation that will ensure that these proposals become law.

“This small change in the law would provide parents with the flexibility that would ensure they are able to care for their child without the added pressure of potentially losing their job.