Born too soon, premature babies can spend weeks and months in hospital before their parents can bring them home. Fathers juggle work and family commitments as paternity leave fails to cover the time they need whilst their baby remains in neonatal intensive care; and mothers recovering from the trauma of premature birth wait beside incubators hoping for the precious moment they can finally get to hold their baby. Time spent watching a tiny baby in neonatal intensive care simply isn’t maternity or paternity leave.
But the journey doesn’t end there. Parents have told us of the ongoing medical needs of babies born too soon, the complex array of mental health difficulties experienced by mothers and financial pressure placed upon families. Returning to work so soon after a baby has come home from hospital, whilst the trauma remains so raw and babies are still so small, is an enormous strain on families, one which sees mothers leaving the workforce or taking periods of long-term sick leave.
That is why the Smallest Things is asking employers to support parents of premature babies, to extend leave and to sign up to our Best Employer Charter. Will you become and ‘Employer with Heart’?
“Working parents deserve support at work, and those who have premature babies should expect nothing less than total backing from their employers at what can be an exceptionally difficult and worrying time.” Business Minister Margot James MP 2017
“It’s a small thing we can do that will make a huge difference for families. I don’t understand why more employers don’t do this.” Cllr Loakes, Deputy Leader WalthamForestCouncil, who provide extended leave for council employees who become parents to premature babies.
“We are proud to have become the first NHS Trust in the country to sign up to the Employer with Heart Charter…. We understand that it can be an extremely difficult and worrying time for those who experience premature labour and the last thing we want is for our hardworking staff to feel they have to worry about work or whether they can afford to take time off to be with their baby” James Devine, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.
Parents – Will you ask your employer sign up the Best Employer Charter, Supporting Parents of Premature Babies? Download our template letter here
Employers – Find all the information you need here in our Employer with Heart Charter – Guidance for Employers 2018 Alternatively contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Smallest Things Employer with Heart Charter – Supporting Parents of Premature Babies
Mums and Dads facing the worry and uncertainty of visiting their premature baby in hospital should not spend that time as maternity or paternity leave. We understand that premature babies need more time; time to develop, time to grow and time for mums and babies to bond at home after neonatal intensive care. That’s why we’re signing up to The Smallest Things Employer with Heart Charter – supporting parents of premature babies.
We agree to
Extend maternity leave for mothers who give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) by the number of days a baby was born prior to their due date. We will pay extended leave at full pay and this may be classed as compassionate leave.
Give partners the time they need to be with their baby in hospital, receiving at least two weeks’ paid compassionate leave on the birth of their premature baby. Partners may wish to save or split their parental leave, being there when their baby comes home from hospital. We understand that plans may change depending upon the baby’s medical needs, that additional compassionate leave may be required and that the date a baby will come home from hospital is rarely set in stone.
Support parents returning to work following the birth of a premature baby. We understand that returning to work can be a difficult time for parents of premature babies and that babies born too soon can have ongoing medical needs, requiring regular hospital appointments and check-ups. We therefore follow the ACAS best practice guidance, considering formal and informal flexible working patterns and offering additional paid or unpaid leave.
A SMALL change can make a BIG difference