Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill | QCS

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

Dementia Care
August 30, 2022

Stephanie Cookson, Solicitor at Napthens, explains a proposed bill that would give parents paid leave to spend time with their babies in neonatal care and what providers can do to prepare for it.

Approximately 50,000 babies a year spend more than one week in neonatal care following their birth. This is undoubtedly a very tough time for any parent, but without additional support from their employer, it can be even more difficult. Currently, the only statutory support mechanisms in place to help parents are the usual leave entitlements such as maternity leave or paternity leave.

The proposed Bill

A new Bill has been proposed which would allow parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to spend time with their baby in hospital. It will apply to parents of babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days and have a continuous stay in hospital of 7 full days or more.

The right to take neonatal leave will be available to all employees from the first day of their employment. However, only those employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer and meet minimum earning tests will be eligible for statutory neonatal pay.

What impact will this have?

Introducing this law will allow parents of those babies in need of neonatal care to take leave and be with their baby whilst they receive lifesaving care. This means that parents will not have to use their existing leave entitlements, take a period of unpaid leave or return to work whilst their baby is in hospital receiving care.

What does this mean for employers?

The Government’s consultation found that 90% of employers were in favour of implementing neonatal leave and pay as it was found that employees were using alternative types of leave, such as sick leave, to spend time with their sick babies in hospital. From a commercial perspective, this is more expensive for employers as they are not able to reclaim sick pay.

Under the proposed Bill, employers will be able to reclaim the cost of statutory neonatal pay, meaning there will be a cost saving for employers whilst allowing employers to be more supportive to employees during this difficult time.

What next?

The Bill will need to be approved by the House of Lords and receive Royal Assent before it becomes law. If the Bill is passed, we may still have to wait until 2024 or 2025 for this entitlement to be introduced as HM Revenue & Customs and commercial payroll providers usually require 18 months’ notice to implement changes which enable employers to administer new statutory payments.

How should employers prepare?

If approved, we would recommend that businesses update their template contracts to include reference to the new legislation, usually under the ‘other paid leave’ clause as this will ensure that the contract remains compliant with Section 1 Employment Rights Act 1996. In addition, it is recommended for employers to introduce a new policy within the business to confirm neonatal care leave entitlements and the process that employees should follow if they ever need to take neonatal leave.

If you have any questions in relation to this article or any advice in relation to payment of holiday pay, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Napthens’ Employment team. Please note, the Napthens Employment team are able to offer 30 minutes of free advice to QCS members.

AfterAthena
AfterAthena

Employment Law Specialists

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