Council introduces new provisions to support staff with premature babies or those who suffer the loss of a child

Hounslow Council is introducing two provisions to support staff who have premature babies or who suffer the loss of a child.

Published: Friday, 7th December 2018

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Parenthood brings a huge change in the lives of every parent, and for many, it brings great joy as well as a lifetime of challenges.  However, for some, the challenge can start earlier than planned if there is a premature birth, while for others, accident or illness may take away something that is very precious.  Therefore, Hounslow Council is introducing two provisions to support staff who have premature babies or who suffer the loss of a child.

The council is supporting The Smallest Things campaign, a scheme which supports employees affected by the hospitalisation of their premature babies (those born at or before 37 weeks).

Staff will be given an extra week’s Premature Baby Leave and Premature Baby Pay (full pay) for every week their premature baby spends in hospital before their due date. This will be available to mothers on maternity leave and partners who would otherwise be on paternity leave.

The council is also bringing forward the Parental Bereavement Leave legislation to immediately provide bereaved parents and carers of children under 18 or those who suffer a still birth, from 24 weeks of pregnancy, two weeks’ paid leave.

Although the legislation does not become law until April 2020, the council recognises that losing a baby or a child is a devastating experience for all the family and wishes to make this support available to its staff as soon as possible. The existing right to request up to two week’s leave for other family bereavements remains unaffected.

Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Workforce, said:

“Whilst these new policies will affect only a small number of the council’s workforce, we are clear that adopting them is the right thing to do to. Parents of premature babies require the support and understanding of their employer, as it may be weeks, or even months, before they can bring their baby home.

“We will also be applying for the Smallest Things Employer Charter Mark, to become an ‘Employer with Heart’, which will enable us to promote our commitment to be an employer who supports premature babies and their families.

“Likewise, those who have suffered the loss of a child deserve to be treated with respect and compassion, and I am pleased that the council is formalising this policy ahead of the Government’s legislation.”

Both provisions will be available from 1 January 2019.

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