Council sets up fund to help employees with premature babies

23 March 2018

The smallest things are proving to be among the most important for Cheshire West and Chester Council as it agrees a £20,000 fund to help staff whose babies are born prematurely.

The Council is supporting The Smallest Things campaign, launched to promote the good health of premature babies and their families, by setting aside the money in its 2018-19 budget.

This fund will allow parents to have additional paid leave for every week their premature baby is in hospital, extending maternity or paternity leave and helping ease financial pressures on families.

Councillor David Armstrong, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Legal and Finance, said: “This can be a particularly worrying and stressful time for parents and involves lengthy stays in hospital.

“It can mean that parents are not able to bring their babies home until many weeks after the birth, impacting on the precious time that a mother or father is able to spend at home with their child.

“This Council supports The Smallest Things campaign and considers that it is appropriate to set aside funding to ensure it can provide additional paid leave for parents of premature babies that are employees of the Council.” Councillor Paul Donovan, Cabinet Member for Workforce, said: “All employers have a statutory duty to provide maternity leave of up to 52 weeks and paternity leave of up to two weeks. There is currently no statutory duty to provide additional leave, paid or otherwise for parents of premature babies, however, we recognise that this is a very difficult time for mums and dads.” Around 10 per cent of babies in west Cheshire are born early, before 37 weeks. 

The proposal to set the money aside for staff in the 2018-19 budget was agreed by Council at its meeting on 1 March. Staffing Committee agreed to create the policy at its meeting on 20 March.

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