Government confirms new right to neonatal care leave and pay
Following its July 2019 consultation, the Government has committed to introducing a right for employees to have paid time off if their child is receiving neonatal care. The right will be included in the new Employment Bill.
Key details of the scheme will be:
- Statutory neonatal leave and pay will follow similar rules already in place for maternity, paternity and other family types of leave and pay, meaning a parent is eligible for leave immediately, but only eligible for pay if they meet a minimum earnings test and have the required length of service (26 weeks)
- The scheme will initially only be available to employees, meaning the self-employed will not be eligible
- The Government has not yet defined who will be eligible to take the leave and whether it will be restricted to biological parents, the parents in an intended surrogacy or adoption arrangement, and the spouse or partner of a biological mother. The Government will consider whether other caregivers, such as grandparents, should be eligible
- The entitlement to the leave will apply if the child is less than 28 days old when admitted to hospital and the admission lasts for 7 continuous days or more. The type of care the child must be receiving to be eligible as neonatal care under the scheme is being reviewed and considered by the Government
- Statutory neonatal leave will run for up to 12 weeks: one week of leave for every week the child is receiving neonatal care. It is likely that the leave will have to be taken in one week blocks
- Neonatal leave will be taken after maternity and paternity leave. The Government is still considering how the leave will interact with other forms of family leave, such as shared parental leave
- In terms of notice, it is anticipated that for leave taken soon after the baby’s admission to hospital, the employee will only need to give short and informal notice to their employer. If the leave begins at a later stage, then notice of at least a week will be required
- Employees will be asked to provide a signed declaration confirming they meet the eligibility requirements for statutory neonatal pay
- Protection for employees will be much the same as for other types of family leave. Employees will be protected from detriment and discrimination for exercising their rights. The rights upon returning to work will the same as for other types of family leave
The Government has not yet provided any detail on when the final rules of the scheme will be published, nor when the statutory right to leave and pay will be introduced.
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