BBC extends parental leave for parents of premature babies

Today the BBC have announced that they are to extend paid parental leave for staff whose babies are born premature.

The Smallest Things Founder and chair of trustees, Catriona Ogilvy, welcomed the news, saying:

“We are delighted to see the steps that the BBC are taking to support staff following premature birth and welcomed the opportunity to share our Employer with Heart charter with them earlier this year. Visiting a premature baby on a neonatal intensive care unit is a traumatic, distressing time for parents without the added worry of work and pay. It certainly shouldn’t count as parental leave. The BBC’s new policy gives parents precious time to bond with their fragile babies outside of the hospital environment and take care of them at home for longer.”

1 in 8 babies born in the UK require admission to a neonatal unit, with those born premature expected to remain in hospital the longest.

BBC Presenter Rachel Burden had her son Henry at 31 weeks weighing 3lbs:

“I’m over the moon and so grateful to all the mothers of tiny babies at the BBC who helped bring about this change. Inspired by the brilliant campaign of The Smallest Things charity – we told our stories, urged the BBC to review its own parental leave policies and they listened. It will make a huge difference to parents of premature children who face enormous stress and extra challenges in those early weeks and months. Hopefully other organisations will now be encouraged to sign up to the Employer with Heart Charter.”

Additional leave granted by the BBC, in keeping with The Smallest Things Employer with Heart charter, sees full pay extended for mothers of premature babies (born prior to 37 weeks gestation) by the number of days the baby is born before the due date. For partners, leave is extended by 2 weeks on full pay.

 The Smallest Things is a premature baby charity, established in 2014, to support the needs of families and babies beyond the neonatal unit. If you would like further information about The Smallest Things Employer with Heart Charter, or would like to ask your organisation to sign up too, please get in touch at

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