THE SMALLEST THINGS SIGNS OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNMENT CALLING ON PUBLICATION OF INTERNAL REVIEW INTO PARENTAL LEAVE FOR PARENTS OF PREMATURE, SICK AND MULTIPLE BABIES NEEDING NEONATAL CARE
The Smallest Things has today joined forces with Members of Parliament, David Linden MP and Rachel Reeves MP, together with charities Bliss and TAMBA, writing an open letter that urges business minister Kelly Tolhurst MP to publish the long-awaited findings from a government review into parental leave for families of premature, sick and multiple babies.
Catriona Ogilvy, founder and chair of trustees of The Smallest Things, added her signature to the letter saying:
“While some employers are taking the lead in supporting working parents of premature babies by signing up to our Employer with Heart charter, the government has been slow to take action to ensure all families of premature babies have access to extended leave. We urge the government to act now so that all parents have the time to bond with their babies and have a better chance of returning to work successfully after the trauma of time on a neonatal unit.
“There are thousands of babies receiving specialist care in neonatal units today, which means terrified parents worrying about their little ones’ health and future. We don’t believe work or pay should be added to those worries.”
The Smallest Things has met officials from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) on several occasions, attended a meeting with Kelly Tolhurst MP in December 2018, and organised for supporters of our charity to attend focus groups so that government could hear first-hand what it’s like to have a premature baby or babies in neonatal care. In addition, The Smallest Things supported a parental leave survey sent out by Bliss in February 2019
that found 77% of parents of premature or sick babies felt their leave wasn’t long enough.
The Smallest Things has been campaigning for extended parental leave for families of premature babies since 2014. Our #NotMatLeave petition has now been signed by over 333,000 people and we were instrumental in the governments 2017 Mothers Day pledge to introduce new ACAS Guidelines for employers supporting staff whose babies are born premature. In February 2018 we launched our Employer with Heart charter, asking business to extend leave for families following preterm birth. Organisations from across the UK, employing tens of thousands of staff, have become Employers with Heart, but only legislation will ensure that all families have the support and time they need following the trauma of neonatal intensive care.