Tag Archives: #NotMatLeave

London hospital extends leave for staff whose babies are born premature

University College London Hospital becomes an Employer with Heart, extending parental leave for staff whose babies are born premature.

UCLH has been named an “employer with heart”, becoming the first London hospital to introduce extra support and paid leave to staff whose babies are born prematurely or need neonatal care.

Founder of The Smallest Things charity, Catriona Ogilvy, said: “We are delighted that UCLH have taken these step towards supporting staff whose babies are born premature or poorly. They are leading the way alongside other London employers, such as the Mayor Sadiq Khan and Sony Music UK. We hope that other London hospitals follow in their example too. Visiting a baby in neonatal intensive care is an uncertain and traumatic time for families and it is right that parents are given the additional paid leave they need to fully recover and bond with their baby once at home.”

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.

Ben Morrin, director of workforce at UCLH, said: “Having a baby born early can mean waiting weeks before you bring your baby home from hospital and added stress and emotional worry, juggling work and family commitments. Mums and dads across UCLH will now have extra time and help after any premature birth.

“That time should never have to be taken as normal maternity or paternity leave. We hope that by introducing extended leave we will give parents precious time to bond when any affected family is back home together.”

The changes, agreed by UCLH senior directors, are in line with The Smallest Things ‘Employer with Heart’ charter and will mean:

  • Where an employee’s baby is born prematurely (before the 37th week), the employee will be entitled to extend maternity, paternity or same sex partners leave by the number of days the baby was born prior to the due date at full pay.
  • Where an employee’s baby is born prematurely as described above and has ongoing medical needs (for example, requiring regular hospital appointments and check-ups), UCLH will follow best practice guidance, consider formal and informal flexible working patterns and will consider offering additional paid or unpaid leave.
  • Employees/parents returning to work following the birth of a premature baby will be referred to Occupational Health by their line manager for support to meet their unique needs and in acknowledgement of the traumatic birth. This support will include the offer of counselling services.


More than 250,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling upon the UK Government to extend parental leave for families affected by premature birth.

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 smallestthings@yahoo.com

Premature Babies in the News! 

This week marked the end of World Prematurity Month 2016. 

A month where charities, organisations and parents come together to raise awareness of premature birth and it was a bumper month for The Smallest Things!

In fact, over the last 8 weeks The Smallest Things and our supporters have rarely been out of the news!

You may have seen Karen Stirrat and her triplets on BBC Breakfast or STV discussing maternity leave.  

Or Michelle Caton-Richards featured in the Sun speaking bravely about her experiences of PTSD following premature birth. 

The media interest around the #NotMatLeave campaign has been strong and we were delighted to see the Prematurity Bill receiving cross-party support from MPs when it was introduced to The House of Commons. 

Ahead of the debate Smallest Things founder Catriona Ogilvy was interviewed by BBC Breakfast, BBC London, Sky News, ITV News and Channel 5 News, coverage which was well received. 

Catriona also spent time on Radio BBC 4’s Womens Hour alongside Bliss CEO Caroline Davey to debate the issue of maternity leave and later discussed premature birth with Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London. 

The #NotMatLeave petition, which now has over 125,000 signatures, has also featured in the Evening Standard, The Sun, The MirrorThe Times and The Huffiongton Post – not bad for a campaign entirely run by volunteers! 

World Prematurity Month may be over for another year, but The Smallest Things are committed to raising awareness 365 days a year – watch this space for more media interest soon! 

Premature Baby’s Journey – Henry’s Video Supports the #NotMatLeave Campaign 

With thanks to Nicki Cooper, sharing Henry’s video to support our #NotMatLeave campaign. 

On December 16 MPs will debate the Premature Birth Bill introduced by Steve Reed MP. The bill, supported by MPs from across political parties, calls for extended leave for both mothers and fathers of babies born too soon. 

You can support the #NotMatLeave campaign by signing our petition to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies – SIGN NOW!

Watch! The #NotMatLeave Film

We are hugely grateful to the film company Little Whale for producing and sharing their own story in support of our #NotMatLeave campaign.  

Check out their short film here –

If you like the film as much as we do then please help us to share the #NotMatLeave message far and wide. It’s easy – just click on the Facebook and Twitter buttons now! 

Sign the petition! Extend Maternity Leave for Mothers of Premature Babies. 

115,218 Voices go to Parliament

This week Smallest Things supporters and volunteers handed in 115, 218 signatures to the Dept. for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The petition is for the attention of Minister Margot James MP who, among many other things, is responsible for parental leave policy.


Until now the minister has declined our requests to meet with parents affected by premature birth…but we now have a glimpse of hope that our 115,218 voices will be heard!

No dates have been offered yet, but an intention to arrange a time to meet with families has been made. Watch this Space….

Thank you to everyone who shared #NotMatLeave pictures of their time in NICU on Facebook and Twitter – together we can raise awareness and make change happen!



If you haven’t signed the petition yet, the link is still open and can be signed here.