Neonatal Leave Consultation

This summer the government announced a plan to give neonatal leave to parents of babies born prematurely. Parents of premature or sick babies often spend many weeks or months in neonatal wards, with many dads back at work within weeks while mothers spend the majority of their leave sitting next to incubators, often far from home.

For self-employed families there is no support for the fathers in this situation, and mothers have the additional stress of the potential loss of their business if they are the sole carer of a premature baby

 We have worked with the charity The Smallest Things to pick out the most important questions to answer to help self-employed parents of premature and sick babies.

Do fill in the consultation using the guidance below

Question 2. Do you agree that parents of babies who need to spend time in neonatal care should have access to additional pay and leave? Strongly agree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that parents whose babies spend time in neonatal care should receive additional financial support, and this must include the self-employed. Include personal experience here if you can.

Question 3. Do you agree that access to Neonatal Leave and Pay should be restricted to parents whose children have spent a minimum of 2 weeks in neonatal care, i.e. are seriously ill or likely to be in hospital for an extended period of time? • Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

Given that fathers are currently only entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave, and self-employed fathers get no leave whatsoever, restricting neonatal leave to those parents whose babies spend more than 2 weeks in neonatal means there will be families where they father is back at work before the baby is out of hospital, and we believe this puts unnecessary strain on families. Also, there may be babies born with conditions that mean they are not necessarily in a neonatal ward, but could be in specialist paediatric wards, and these should also be included. (Include personal experience if relevant)

Question 4. If you agree that access to Neonatal Leave and Pay should be restricted to parents whose babies are most seriously ill, after what length of time in neonatal care should the parents’ entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay crystallise? • Other

We believe that babies requiring one week of extra neonatal care should get additional leave, in order for fathers who only qualify for 2 weeks statutory paternity leave to be able to properly support the mother and share the care of their child. This is particularly important for self-employed fathers and partners who currently do not qualify for any pay or leave whatsoever, may be under incredible pressure to leave a seriously ill baby in order to go back to work. Having some financial support for fathers in this period would help ease the pressure during an incredibly stressful time.

Question 5. Are there other circumstances that you think should be considered for inclusion within the scope of Neonatal Leave and Pay? What are they?

The current Government proposals do not include self-employed parents and we are concerned that neonatal leave and pay would not be offered to this group. Given the well-documented problems that affect this group, who currently have no paternity or shared parental pay, it is vital that all families spending more than one week in

neonatal care should have access to additional leave and pay. We urge the government to take this opportunity to make the new legislation fit for purpose to include the 15% of the workforce who are self-employed and give self-employed parents the support to visit their new babies in neonatal care. If you are self-employed and have experience of having a premature baby please include any difficulties you faced here.

Question 6 Do you agree that Neonatal Leave should be a ‘day one right’ in line with Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Parental Bereavement Leave? Agree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know 

Premature babies aren’t a thing you can plan for, and as the purpose of this legislation is to support families in these stressful situations and setting out clear guidelines for employers, we believe it is counterproductive to exclude some families. We also believe self-employed families should qualify, and that similar qualifying criteria to Maternity Allowance should be used.

Question 7 Do you agree that the qualifying period of service for Statutory Neonatal Pay should mirror the qualifying period of Statutory Paternity and Shared Parental Pay? • Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know 

We believe that this should be a day-one right and extend to self-employed people. We have already seen the effect that excluding the self-employed from shared parental pay has on women’s businesses, and It would be a huge missed opportunity to exclude the 15% of the workforce that are currently self-employed from neonatal pay. Leave without pay effectively excludes families on low incomes. The Taylor Review recommended equalising the parental leave regimes for employed and self-employed parents, and these two consultations are an opportunity to urgently address the shortcomings in a system that is not designed for modern families.

Question 8. Do you agree that the entitlement to Neonatal Leave should be capped? Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

To ensure that parents of extremely poorly babies are supported, the length neonatal leave should not be capped, as this could add to additional stress, and could result in some families having their leave entitlement run out while their baby is still extremely ill in a neonatal unit.

Question 9. Do you agree that the maximum number of weeks of Neonatal Leave should be the same as the maximum number of Neonatal Pay in order to ensure eligible parents can receive pay throughout their leave period? • Strongly Agree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We strongly believe that the entire period of neonatal leave should be paid, recognising the extreme financial strain that families will be under with one or both parents not working. Paying for travel, hospital parking, accommodation and food outside of the home are all additional expenses that many parents of premature babies incur so we do not believe that the financial support should be capped.

Question 11 Do you agree that Neonatal Leave and Pay should be taken in a continuous period at the end of existing entitlements to family-related leave and pay, e.g. Maternity or Paternity Leave? Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that for some families the ability to share neonatal leave in blocks between the mother and the father should also be an option, particularly for self-employed parents, where either the mother or the father’s business may require their critical attention at some point. Restricting the leave to a continuous block where work is not allowed could be detrimental, so we recommend building in some flexibility for the self-employed.

Question 12 Do you agree that a father/partner should be required to give notice in advance of the end of their other statutory leave entitlement to Paternity Leave in order to take Neonatal Leave?  Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that fathers should be entitled to take neonatal leave at other points in first year, as the end of the statutory 2 weeks paternity leave may not be the most useful time for the family. They should be required to indicate an intention to take neonatal leave but with flexibility on the dates.

Consultation on Shared Parental Leave announced

The Business Secretary, Greg Clark today announced a consultation on a number of family-friendly policies, including Shared Parental Leave. This follows years of campaigning from Parental Pay Equality and others, and includes open-ended sections for respondents to have their say on SPL. A government policy consultation is a very significant step, and opens the door to legislative change in these areas going forward. The consultation on Parental Leave closes on November 29th and can be found here.

Parental Pay Equality & UK Music Joint Letter to Business Secretary

25.06.2019: UK Music chief Michael Dugher and Parental Pay Equality founder Olga FitzRoy have called on the Government to include self-employed workers in the music industry in paid parental leave reforms.

They have written a joint letter (attached) to Business Secretary Greg Clark to urge him to do more to help workers in the creative industries who contribute £100 billion to the UK economy.

The move follows reports that the Government is considering extending paid paternity leave to 12 weeks.

In their letter to Mr Clark, Michael and Music Producers Guild Executive Director Olga said:

“The vast majority of creators in the music industry are self-employed. At present, current regulations place the burden of childcare on the mother, damaging her career prospects while preventing fathers from spending time with their new families. 

“With women still under-represented in all sectors of the music industry, the ability to share parental leave could be a game-changer in retaining freelance female talent.

“These urgently needed changes are long overdue. If the Government is serious about supporting businesses and the creative industries which contribute £100 billion to the UK economy, it must introduce reforms that reflect the modern working world.”


Pregnant Then Elected

On Thursday 25 October, we are partnering with Pregnant Then Screwed on our first Pregnant Then Elected event to encourage more mums to kick start a career in politics.
Following Jo Swinson MP being subjected to maternity discrimination by our own government, we want to encourage and support more mums to have a political career. Only 32% of MPs are women and 45% of women MPs have no children, compared to 28% of male MPs and compared to 20% of the overall population. The most senior women in politics, like Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, do not have children.
We will discuss the specific challenges mothers encounter, why it is important we have more mums in Westminster, how to make your voice heard, how to overcome the various barriers, and we will demystify the process. The event will be non-partisan. We will also talk through the lifecycle of a successful campaign, using Parental Pay Equality as an example.
Tickets for Pregnant Then Elected are free, but if you can afford it there is a suggested donation of £15 to Pregnant then Screwed.
Time: 6pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Landsec offices, 80 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JS
Accessibility: Venue is fully accessible – for any accessibility queries please email
Children: Children and babies are very welcome to the event, though there aren’t any childcare facilities.
Drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic) will be available as well as some crisps and nuts.
Speakers will include:
Kemi Badenoch MP (Conservative)
Tracy Brabin MP, Shadow Minister for Early Years, (Labour)
Joeli Brearley, Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed
Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats
Rezina Chowdhury, Lambeth Councillor (Labour)
Olga Fitzroy, Founder of Parental Pay Equality
Aceil Haddad, Pregnant Then Screwed
Caroline Nokes MP, Immigration Minister (Conservative)
Frances Scott, Founder of 50:50 Parliament
Tulip Siddiq MP, (Labour)
Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
Amelia Womak, Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Spoken word artist, Amber Rose, will be reading some of her hard-hitting poetry. Amber is a Brighton-based single mum who is passionate about mental health, motherhood and healing from abusive relationships.