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Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill – what is it?

Whilst the Employment Bill was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, the Neonatal Care Bill has been brought forward and is currently working its way through government. The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill has already passed its second reading and is due to have its final reading to be passed by the House of Lords in February 2023. But what is it and what does it mean for employers?

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill is being introduced to protect those parents whose babies require specialist care after birth. The Bill allows parents to take additional paid time off to support their child during this difficult time instead of having to worry about returning to work or taking unpaid leave.

Once the Bill is approved and is implemented in law, it will apply to parents of babies up to the age of 28 days who are admitted to hospital and have a continuous stay in hospital of a minimum of 7 days.

The Bill will allow each parent to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave and this is in addition to their existing parental leave rights (maternity or paternity for example). The welcome change to families going through this difficult time will allows fathers and partners the flexibility to share caring responsibilities by increasing the amount of paid leave beyond the 2 weeks of paternity pay.

Neonatal leave will be a day one right for all employees and neonatal pay will be available for those with a least 26 weeks’ continuous service and meet minimum earning tests.

Whilst it will allow employers to support their employees further at this difficult time, the Bill will also help many businesses financially. Many employees tend to take sick leave following their parental leave to be able to support their family further and statutory sick pay cannot be claimed back by companies. However, it is expected that employers will be able to reclaim the cost of neonatal pay meaning a large saving for many businesses.

The Bill is now due to have its report stage and third reading on Friday 3 February 2023 and amendments to the Bill can still be made at the Report Stage.

For further information on the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill or on any family friendly policies, please contact the ProAktive HR Support team on 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Rachel Storey Dip CII – HR Support & Business Development

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