Imagine your baby being born in circumstances requiring prolonged neonatal care. The last thing you need to worry about is your leave and pay entitlements while your baby is in hospital (or afterwards). However, this is sadly not the case for many parents. As there is currently no specific neonatal care leave or pay, employees rely on other types of leave (paid or otherwise) to be with their babies in such circumstances. A survey conducted by Bliss in 2019 showed that 36% of fathers and partners were signed off sick and 11% of parents left their jobs where their baby was in neonatal care. Less than ideal.
The new Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 (NCLP), expected to come into force in April 2025, intends to address those issues. How? Although at least 7 statutory instruments will need to be introduced to implement the provision of the NCLP, this is what we know:
Eligibility: The right to statutory neonatal care and leave (SNCL) will be available with no qualifying period of employment to employees who have a parental or other personal relationship (the meaning of which remains to be defined) to a child who is receiving, or has received, neonatal care.
Leave entitlement: The amount of SNCL entitlement has yet to be defined. While it is likely to depend on the duration of neonatal care, it will be at least one week and is not expected to exceed 12 weeks. This is in addition to any other statutory family leave to which the employee may be entitled.
Pay entitlement: Statutory neonatal care pay (SNCP) will be payable throughout SNCL to employees who meet minimum earnings and length of service criteria, similar to the criteria for statutory maternity pay (SMP) and statutory paternity pay (SPP). The amount of SNCP is likely to be the same as the prescribed rate of SMP and SPP.
Whilst it needs a lot of polishing before coming into force, we definitely like what we see. The NCLP will no doubt be of great assistance to working parents.