A campaign by charity ‘The Smallest Things’ is currently underway to pursuade employers to extend maternity leave for parents with premature babies

The support for the campaign comes as the BBC has this month become one of the first employers to change its parental leave policy for mums and dads with babies born before 37 weeks. Full pay will be extended for mothers by the number of days the baby is born before the due date.

Two weeks’ full pay is now offered for paternity leave and 18 weeks full pay for shared parental leave.

The reality for parents in such circumstances, is that much of their leave is spent on neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Once the babies are home, mums are often left with little time to spend with them before returning to work

Founder of the charity Catriona Ogilvy said “There are a number of things an employer can do to support a mum and dad following the premature birth of a baby.”

“Firstly, to extend a mum’s mat leave by the number of days between when a baby is born premature and the due date, and to support dads and partners by extending parental leave for them so that they can be on the unit to support their partner and baby during that time.

“Secondly when it comes to returning to work, to offer flexible working patterns and to allow parents to be with their babies when they are readmitted to hospital, or to attend hospital appointments.”

The change to the BBC’s policy was introduced on April 1 this year. Previously parents with premature babies were limited to the organisation’s exceptional leave policy – giving up to 10 days to those who might need extra support.

Bosses say the change ‘provides reassurance that full support will be given throughout the period between the baby’s premature arrival and the original due date, and protects the full length of the parent’s maternity or paternity leave’.

To read more about the campaign: https://thesmallestthings.org/2015/05/11/longer-mat-leave-for-preemie-mums-5-reasons-why-2/