Workplace support for parents with premature or sick babies

06 September 2017

Acas has published new guidance which aims to support working parents with premature or sick babies and help employers to support staff who have given birth to premature or ill babies.

Acas reports that there are over 95,000 premature or sick babies born each year in the UK and understandably it can be a difficult time for parents, so work may be the last thing they want to think about.

This guidance provides important information for employees and employers in relation to preterm births or full-term births where the baby is sick. It sets out best practice guidance for managing employees in these difficult circumstances.

The guidance covers:

  • Employee entitlement

  • What premature actually means

  • Employee responsibilities

  • Supporting the parents following the birth

  • The death of a premature or sick baby

  • Managing bereavement

  • Return to work –employer support options


The Smallest Things, founded in 2014 to campaign for premature babies and beyond, helped to shape the guidelines, working closely with Acas to ensure that the realities of neonatal care as well as the ongoing difficulties faced by parents were included.

Last year a petition calling upon Minister Margot James to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies gained nearly 130,000 signatures. In a Mumsnet Editorial Minister Margot James said:

“I am confident businesses will welcome these new guidelines and act on our advice, but I will of course keep progress under review, and do not rule out legislating in the future if our advice is not heeded.”

“…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.”

Read the new ACAS guidance ‘Workplace support for parents with premature or sick babies