Acas publishes guidance for employers on supporting parents with premature or sick babies

Over 95,000 premature or sick babies are born each year in the UK. For the parents of these babies, it can be a very worrying and difficult time. Acas has published best practice guidance for employers for when an employee has a premature or sick baby.
The guidance covers:

  • Employee responsibilities with respect to evidence of pregnancy and birth
    • In order to claim Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance, a pregnant employee must obtain a MAT B1 certificate from her doctor or midwife.
  • How to support the employee following the birth of a premature or sick baby
    For example:

    • Offering an advance of salary or a loan if an employee was unable to obtain a MAT B1 certificate before the birth (SMP cannot be paid until this has been provided) and/or to cover additional unexpected expenses such as parking and child care for hospital visits
    • Where necessary reminding the employee that she needs to provide a MAT B1 certificate in order to be paid SMP
    • Communicating with the employee with sensitivity and compassion
      • For example, asking the employee what the employer should tell her/his colleagues
    • Being flexible with fathers / partners about time off to support the mother
    • Reminding the employee about their statutory entitlements to leave, such a parental leave and shared parental leave
  • How to support the employee if a premature or sick baby dies
    • Remember that the mother is still entitled to take her full maternity leave and SMP entitlement if the babay is stillborn after 24 weeks, or dies after birth, and that fathers are also entitled to take paternity leave in the same circumstances. There is also a good practice guide on Acas’ website for managing bereavement in the workplace.
  • How to support the employee in returning to work
    For example,

    • Additional or extended annual leave
    • Special leave or leave without pay
    • Unpaid parental leave
    • Allowing informal or formal flexible working

Employees may also need additional time off for follow up appointments when the baby is discharged from hospital, and employers can help by being flexible about this.

If you have any queries please contact Helen Kay on or .

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