Workers Union applauds extra paid leave for parents of premature babies but says more needs to be done to help
The government is set to announce a cash boost for parents of premature babies. New chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to launch plans which would see mothers and fathers able to claim statutory paid leave for every week that the child remains in hospital, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Under the proposals, parents will be able to claim £160 a week towards the costs of looking after their baby without fear of losing out financially by being forced to take unpaid leave.
The move is a response to a campaign by Catriona Ogilvy, who spent time looking after her son when he was born ten weeks before the official due date.
In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, treasury minister Kemi Badenoch said that the money will come from government coffers and, ‘will be in addition to the usual maternity and paternity leave, and finally give parents the time, the resources and the space to handle these difficult circumstances.
‘We know that almost 40,000 babies born in Great Britain each year have to spend more than a week in neonatal care. And a survey of parents affected found that 80% of them reported that their mental health suffered as a result.’
Chief spokesman for The Workers Union, Johnathan Morgan, said: ‘While we applaud the government’s decision to try and take the stress out of this very challenging time for parents, we think that the gaps in the current pregnancy laws are still very apparent. Questions need to be asked of business both in terms of the attitude towards pregnant women and the lack of enhanced terms and conditions for the parents of premature babies. Some companies do make provision for additional pay and benefits, but many have no policy to cover this difficult eventuality. Having to worry about money and work obligations when all the focus should be on caring for a child is something that shouldn’t be happening in a modern, compassionate society. We’d like to see additional supplements payable by the private sector that top up the government’s figures – particularly for those on low and medium incomes. Employees should not be penalised for something that’s entirely beyond their control.’
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