Emerald Group has introduced a new policy for parents, which grants paid, extra time off to any employee whose baby is born prematurely and commits to support them on their return to work.
In the UK, one in eight babies are born prematurely which means that many parents spend a significant amount of their parental leave time at hospital with their babies in a neonatal unit. This leaves mothers and fathers losing out on the time to bond with their babies once they are home, or potentially struggling financially to try to extend their planned parental leave.
Under current UK law, maternity/paternity leave begins the day after birth, regardless of whether the baby is premature.
Emerald Group has introduced a new policy which sees the company paying parents full pay between the date of babies born before 37 weeks and their due date.
Mandi Viqueira, People Operations Manager at Emerald Group said, “parents facing the worry and uncertainty of visiting their premature babies in hospital should not spend that time as maternity or paternity leave. We know that premature babies need more time to develop, grow and time for parents and babies to bond at home after neonatal intensive care. That’s why we’ve signed up to The Smallest Things Best Employer Charter – supporting parents of premature babies”.
When parents are then planning on coming back to work, Mandi further commented, “we understand that returning to work can be a difficult time for parents of premature babies and that babies born too soon can have ongoing medical needs, requiring regular hospital appointments and check-ups. So, we want to make sure that they feel supported at work by considering formal and informal flexible working patterns and offering additional paid or unpaid leave”.
Emerald Group already has a flexible working policy available to everyone, to allow employees to balance their home life and work life in a way that suits each person best.
Welcoming the news, Catriona Ogilvy, founder of The Smallest Things, said: “We are delighted that Emerald Group has signed up to our Employer with Heart charter and will give parents of babies born prematurely the extra time they need. Visiting a fragile baby on a neonatal unit for weeks, sometimes months, is terrifying and shouldn’t be counted as maternity or paternity leave. We know that health issues – for babies and parents – often last long after leaving hospital so we’re pleased to hear employees will be supported on their return to work at Emerald Group too”.