ACAS has issued new guidance related to employees who have a baby or babies that are ill or premature.
In the case of a baby being born prematurely, maternity leave should begin the day after the birth. In these instances the mother may be unable to obtain a MATB1 form (which entitles her to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance). You may want to remind fathers and partners who are eligible for paternity leave and pay that their leave can be taken within 8 weeks of the actual date of birth, or within 8 weeks of the date that the baby was due to be born. Therefore, as an employer, you should consider whether it would be appropriate to chase for this form as it is obviously advisable to act appropriately with regard to what can be a difficult time for the new child’s family. It may be appropriate to remind the family of their statutory entitlement regarding maternity and/or paternity pay, as appropriate support from an employer can prove invaluable.
It is important to note that if parents sadly lose an ill or premature baby mothers are still entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave if she would like to take it, and (if eligible) 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. The father will also be able to receive paternity leave and pay if the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks, or is born alive but subsequently passes away.
It is advisable to be aware of your responsibilities should you find yourself managing an employee with an ill or premature baby as that can help ensure you manage a sensitive situation in the most appropriate way possible as well as providing suitable support.