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Acas publishes new advice to help support working parents with premature babies

Tuesday 05 September 2017

Workplace experts, Acas, has published new advice for employers today to help them support staff who have given birth to premature or ill babies.

Acas Chief Executive, Anne Sharp, said:

"There are over 95,000 premature or sick babies born each year in the UK.  For their families this is an emotional and difficult time.

"Working parents in these circumstances often find themselves trying to handle the demands of their job, caring for their new-born and looking after other family members.  

"Our new advice helps explain the law within this complicated area in a way that will help employers support working parents whilst taking account of the needs of their business."

Acas' advice for employers include:

  • Communications with working parents needs to be approached in a sensitive and compassionate way. Employers should ask parents if they are happy to be contacted and the best way to do this eg email, text or phone;
  • Employers should ask parents what they would like to tell their work colleagues about their situation;
  • As well as the mother, fathers and partners may need to take time off. Employers might want to make them aware of statutory entitlements around leave and pay such as paternity and shared parental leave; and
  • Employers should try to be flexible in giving time off when parents return to work as the baby may need follow up hospital appointments.

Business Minister Margot James said:

"Working parents deserve support at work, and those who have premature babies should expect nothing less than total backing from their employers at what can be an exceptionally difficult and worrying time.

"Most employers already treat their staff with compassion and flexibility. This guidance removes any doubt for parents about what their rights are and lets employers know how best to provide support."

Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at the premature and sick baby charity Bliss, said:

"The new Acas guidelines are a welcome and useful resource for employers to highlight clearly the measures they can take to support their employees if their baby is born premature or sick."

To see Acas' full advice, please visit:


Notes to editors

1. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.  Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year.  Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.