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Approximately one in seven babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. This naturally brings up a whole range of emotions, some of which can be very difficult to deal with.

However, the support surrounding neonatal babies seems to be changing, with the government looking to implement vital help in the coming years. So, what can parents-to-be expect?


What is Neonatal Care?

This is the type of care given to a baby born prematurely, unwell or with a low birthweight in a neonatal unit. The term ‘neonatal’ refers to newborn babies or babies still within the first 28 days of life.


What is Changing Around Neonatal Care?

The Government is proposing to introduce new rights for eligible employees to receive neonatal leave and pay, supporting families when a baby is born prematurely or unwell and needs care in a neonatal unit.

The argument made by the government is that parents of a baby in neonatal care must rely on their existing leave entitlements to enable them to be off work while the baby undergoes treatment.

Essentially, this means that part of the parents’ maternity or paternity leave is used with the baby in hospital. During this period, it is difficult for the parents to properly bond with the child outside of a medical environment.

The rights for parents eligible for the new neonatal leave and pay is due to be enforced in 2023.


The Details Around Neonatal Care

To date, no legislation has been drafted in the UK around this yet. Entitlements and eligibility could change, though it is thought the following will be included:

  • Parents of babies admitted into hospital as a neonate will be eligible for neonatal leave and pay if the admission lasts for seven days or more.
  • The total amount of statutory nNeonatal leave and pay available to parents is expected to be capped at a maximum of twelve weeks.
  • The entitlement to leave will be a day one employment right.
  • Entitlement to ‘Statutory Neonatal Pay’ will depend on the employee having a certain amount of continuous service and minimum earnings. This is currently unspecified, although it is likely to correlate with the ‘lower earnings limit’.

With regards to taking the leave itself, provisions are expected to be made so that it can be taken before and after the employee’s maternity or paternity leave. Other things to expect include:

  • The leave is to be taken in a continuous block of one or more weeks.
  • Notice requirements will be very short. Although they will depend on the severity of the situation as this can vary significantly.
  • Where some employers will require evidence, they may be able to ask for a written declaration from the employee.

Can Howells Help with the Legalities of Neonatal Care?

Absolutely. Our team of specialist employment law solicitors have a wealth of experience and understanding to help advise you in whatever way you need.

If you want to learn more about your employee law rights, talk to us today.

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