As a mum to a baby boy who was born both 7 weeks’ early and poorly (he’s doing great now!), I have been following with interest the much discussed Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill.
But what does this mean from a HR perspective?
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill is a proposed piece of legislation that aims to provide additional support to parents of premature or sick babies by introducing additional leave entitlements and pay during the neonatal period. From a HR perspective, the bill is likely to have a significant impact on the way that employers manage their employees and their HR policies.
Currently parents of premature or sick babies are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. However, this leave entitlement begins from the day that the baby is born, regardless of whether the baby is born prematurely. This can mean that parents of premature or sick babies may have less time to spend with their baby once they are discharged from the neonatal unit.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill proposes to introduce an additional period of leave and pay for parents of premature or sick babies, starting from the day that the baby is discharged from the neonatal unit. The proposed legislation would entitle parents to an additional two weeks of paid leave for every week that their baby spends in neonatal care, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
“No parent should have to choose between being with their premature or sick baby in neonatal care and having to return to work to earn a living; or enjoying the full benefits of parental leave and going back to work” – Stuart C McDonald, MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
From an HR perspective, the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill is likely to require significant changes to existing HR policies and processes. Employers will need to ensure that their HR policies are updated to reflect the new legislation and that their HR teams are trained to manage the new leave entitlements and pay requirements.
Employers may also need to consider the impact that the new legislation could have on their staffing levels and productivity. The additional leave entitlements and pay requirements may mean that some employees are absent from work for longer periods, which could result in reduced productivity or the need to hire temporary staff to cover their absence.
However, the introduction of additional leave entitlements and pay during the neonatal period is likely to be welcomed by employees, and may even improve employee retention and loyalty. Employers who offer additional support to employees during times of personal crisis are likely to be viewed more positively by their workforce and may be able to attract and retain top talent more easily.
“This Bill, if passed, will make a huge difference to the lives of babies born premature or sick and their families” – Caroline Lee-Davey, Bliss Chief Executive
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill is likely to have a significant impact on HR policies and processes. While the proposed legislation may require significant changes to existing HR policies and processes, the introduction of additional leave entitlements and pay during the neonatal period is likely to be welcomed by employees and could even improve employee retention and loyalty. Employers who are able to manage the changes effectively are likely to benefit from a more engaged and loyal workforce.
If you would like to discuss how this could affect your business, please get in touch.