We like to celebrate good news... and this is worth celebrating!

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act has received 'Royal Assent' meaning that it is now law.

It will provide essential support - in the form of statutory leave and pay - to families with a baby or babies in hospital soon after birth.

Almost 60,000 working parents will benefit from this new entitlement every year. This is something that we've long campaigned for, alongside other charities including Bliss and The Smallest Things.

Given that around 40% of multiple birth babies need some extra time in hospital after birth, this is a deeply significant change for our families.

The new law will offer up to 12 weeks of extra leave and pay for parents who qualify for the support. It will mean that parents can spend quality time with their babies in hospital if they are born sick or premature, without the worry of having to return to work. Of course, this can be an anxious period for parents and a crucial time in forming attachments, so having one stress taken away is fantastic and long overdue.

Two babies are treated in a NICU

However, this news could be challenging for families with a baby or babies who are ill in hospital right now - and for the approximately 120,000 parents who will miss out on this support between now and the expected April 2025 implementation date. At present, when babies enter neonatal care, employed parents don't get proper statutory support; this makes the swift implementation of this bill essential. Throughout the pandemic we saw how quickly government can move to support people when the desire exists. We're working to make sure that the government understands how significant this funding could be for the thousands of parents who are set to miss out due to the long implementation timeline.

Funding for this entitlement has been identified to start in 2023. The money must be spent on supporting families in neonatal care. We're working with other charities and the government to make sure that this new law is implemented as swiftly as possible.