Steve introduces proposal to extend leave for parents of premature babies

Steve Reed MP has tabled a change in the law which would extend maternity and paternity leave for parents of premature babies.

The Maternity and Paternity Leave (Premature Birth) Bill will be introduced in the House of Commons on Wednesday 26th October. Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the change, launched by Steve’s constituent Catriona Ogilvy.

Catriona set up the charity The Smallest Things after her two sons, Samuel and Jack, were both born prematurely.

Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year, putting extra financial and emotional pressure on thousands of families. Babies born too soon also start their development at an earlier stage, meaning they require extra care. With this not possible under current laws, parents often have to leave their job and lose further income.

All of this means families of premature babies face huge challenges:

  • Parents of premature babies face over £2,000 in extra costs, because of the need for travel to and from the hospital, childcare for other children, and lost wages while they cannot work
  •  4 in 10 mothers will suffer postnatal depression if their baby is born prematurely – compared to 1 in 10 mothers of full term babies
  • One third of neo-natal units have no psychological support – meaning thousands of parents are left to cope on their own

The Bill will amend the Employment Rights Act to allow extended leave for parents of babies born prematurely, and has won the backing of Bliss, the charity for premature babies.

Steve Reed MP said:

“No parent should be left alone to deal with the emotional and financial stress of balancing employment and care for a baby born too soon or too sick. This is a small change but one which will bring a serious improvement to the lives of thousands of families.

“Over 100,000 people have signed the petition calling for a change in the law so that parents of premature babies are allowed the time they need to ensure their child has the best start in life. I hope that, with the Bill already receiving cross-party support, the Government backs this change.”

Catriona Ogilvy, founder of The Smallest Things, said:

“The support for the campaign has been amazing, and I’ve been touched by how many people have been in contact to share their own stories. Extending leave really will make a huge difference to the lives of families affected by the trauma of premature birth”

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