Mayor Sadiq Khan has revealed pioneering new plans to support parents of premature babies and new-born babies requiring neonatal care.
Under the Mayor’s proposals, parents working at City Hall will be entitled to paid leave if their baby is born prematurely, or is in need of neonatal care in hospital.
Recognising that this is a difficult and stressful experience for any parent, the Mayor is calling on UK employers to follow his lead and support parents by including this type of leave in their maternity and paternity policies.
Every year, more than 95,000 babies are cared for in neonatal units in the UK because they have either been born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), or full term (after 37 weeks) but are sick. Parents can wait weeks for their new-born baby to be allowed to come home, often having to travel back and forth from hospital.
The Mayor’s plans will mean parents working at City Hall will be supported during this difficult time. If the parent has given birth to their baby before 37 weeks, they will be entitled to a day’s premature baby leave and pay for every day between the date their baby was born and the due date. The parent entitled to paternity leave will be eligible to an additional two weeks of paid leave, or a day’s premature baby leave and pay for every day their baby spends in hospital up until the due date – whichever is greater.
In addition, parents of babies born at 37 weeks or after who require neonatal care during their first 28 days of life will both be granted additional neonatal leave and pay for every day their baby spends in neonatal care during that time.
When returning to work, new parents will also be offered additional support from City Hall, including formal and informal flexible working patterns, and offering additional paid or unpaid leave, if necessary.
Recognising that returning to work after having a baby can place an enormous strain on families, and particularly new parents in the workforce, this new policy is the latest move as the Mayor drives forward gender equality in the capital through his #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign. This has included a number of steps to push for gender equality in the workplace and improve support given to working parents, leading by example from City Hall with ‘Our Time’ – a scheme to support more women into leadership roles in London, tackling the pay gap, and introducing new hiring and development measures to support women in the workplace.
To encourage other employers to adopt a similar approach, the Mayor’s Good Work Standard will include premature baby leave and neonatal baby leave as part of its best practice guidance. In addition, City Hall will work with partners and campaigners such as Maternity Action and The Smallest Things to share this instance of leading by example, to encourage other employers to develop similar policies.