When a baby is born prematurely, or with health needs, it can be a difficult time for parents and it is very important that employers understand how they can support employees in these circumstances.
Employment Law Solicitor, Lisa Rothon, looks at the advice and guidance given by ACAS, earlier this month, to assist employers in supporting staff who have given birth to premature or ill babies.
The Advice for employers includes:
- Considering whether it would be helpful to remind the parents that the mother’s entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance is based on the mother providing a MAT B1 Certificate (which they may be unaware of or have forgotten to do at this difficult time);
- Considering helping employees financially to meet the extra expenses incurred by parents for example, in travel and parking costs connected to hospital visits, by providing a loan, advance of salary, or giving the employee access to any in-company schemes such as workers or benevolent funds;
- Asking parents if they are happy to be contacted and the best way to do this;
- Being compassionate and sensitive in all communication and their approach to bereavement (where a premature or sick baby has died);
- Being discrete - asking parents what they would like to tell their colleagues about their situation;
- Making employees aware of statutory entitlements to leave, such as Paternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave; and
- Trying to be flexible in giving time off when parents return to work as the baby may have follow up appointments or treatment. This may include allowing additional or extended annual leave, special leave with or without pay, sick leave, allowing an informal flexible working etc.