New entitlement to neonatal leave announced

We warmly welcome the announcement of a new entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay in this week’s Budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that employed parents whose babies spend an ‘extended period’ in neonatal care will be entitled to paid leave of up to 12 weeks. This follows a concerted campaign in recent years for improved support to parents in this situation.

At present, some parents find that their paid paternity leave expires when their newborn baby is still in neonatal care, or feel forced to save some or all of their entitlement until their baby is discharged home. Meanwhile household spending can often rise as a result of hospital parking costs, transport costs to visit a neonatal unit at some distance from the family home, or additional childcare for healthy siblings.

Our Chief Executive, Zillah Bingley, said:

‘We are delighted to see this policy which means that employed parents of seriously ill babies will feel less financial pressure at a time of great worry and anxiety. This new entitlement will mean some parents will no longer need to choose between returning to work and taking care of their vulnerable baby, and more partners can support each other during a very difficult period.
Rainbow Trust looks forward to hearing more details as to when and how this entitlement will come into effect. In particular, we would urge the Department for Business,Enterprise and Industrial Strategy to consider how to provide similar support to parents who are self-employed or on temporary or ‘zero hours’ contracts. We would also like clarity on whether parents of seriously ill babies discharged home with vital equipment, such as oxygen support, will also be entitled to additional leave on account of the high level of care that their child will require.’

We responded to a government consultation on this issue last autumn. More than 220 families with a seriously ill baby last year started to receive emotional and practical support from Rainbow Trust last year, a rise of 30% on the previous year.

Read our response to the Budget overall here.

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