Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill reaches Royal Assent

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill reaches Royal Assent

Rainbow Trust
Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill reaches Royal Assent image

Date published: 26 May 2023 by Digital Team

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is incredibly pleased that following successful lobbying from organisations such as ourselves and cross-party ministerial support the Neonatal Care (Leave & Pay) Bill reached Royal Assent on 24 May 2023.

We are elated that thousands of working parents will no longer be forced to make a choice between taking unpaid leave or being by their baby’s bedside during such an immensely challenging time and do not continue to be unfairly penalised for having a premature baby or a baby requiring significant neonatal care.

A parent receiving neonatal support from Rainbow Trust said:

“It felt like I was losing out on my right for full maternity leave, on vital bonding time with my baby which I would have had in the womb for a full 9 months.
Being in hospital for long periods can also become very expensive, travel, food, parking – it all adds up. My husband was worried about finances and we had no idea how it would turn out in the long term, the whole time I was also conscious that my maternity leave would run out and I hadn’t even had that time with my baby at home. I spent months in hospital.”

Many of the families Rainbow Trust supports have told us first-hand about feelings of having their maternity and paternity leave unfairly cut short because of having a premature baby or a baby requiring significant medical care. They have also spoken about how this impacts the amount of quality time they have with their baby and the difficulties associated with navigating work commitments whilst attending hospital appointments or managing other caring duties.

Speaking on Radio 5 Live, CEO Zillah Bingley said:

“This is a breakthrough piece of legislation. Currently if a baby is born prematurely, maternity and paternity leave starts immediately which may well mean that a parent has to go back to work before their child reaches the nine month stage or whilst their premature baby is still in hospital. Therefore, the difference this Bill makes in terms of providing 12 weeks of support for these families is immense because it means that they don’t have to start their maternity or paternity leave immediately and are able to spend precious time with their families”.

The expected timeline for this piece of legislation is April 2025 so our efforts will now be directed towards urging the Treasury and the Department for Business and Trade to reconsider this timeline so that the thousands of working parents entitled to this support do not continue to miss out.

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