Cllr Kim Clements has submitted a motion to Suffolk County Council calling on them to help mothers and fathers by providing extra maternity and paternity leave to its employees should they have a premature baby.
The motion, to be discussed at the council meeting on the 6th December calls on the administration to give an extra week of paid maternity and paternity leave for every week their baby is born early. The definition of a premature baby is one born more than three weeks before their due date.
The move has been made as part of ‘The Smallest Things’ campaign in which a number of other councils have introduced the policy to support employees at this most difficult at times.
Many individuals face increased financial hardship simply as a result of having a premature baby, something the Labour Group feels is morally wrong. Often specialist baby units are a long distance from home and the pressure of having to work and be with your premature baby and family means people have to choose between being with their baby or going into work.
Cllr Clements said; “I have been talking to a number of people about this issue and the stories are genuinely saddening, families are being forced back to work after they have given birth to a premature baby earlier than those who have not. I think it is wrong that people should have to chose between work and their premature baby.
“Some of these children don’t leave the hospital for many months and then mothers have much less time at home with their new babies, a time that is crucial for developing good bonding and attachment.
“Fathers also have to chose whether to take their maternity leave when the baby is in hospital or delay it for when the baby is home. This is a time when a mother and father should be together, not stuck at work with a baby in hospital.
“Parents face increased costs because they are travelling great distances to see their baby whilst at the same time having to keep employers happy. Some families have to travel to Norwich on an almost daily basis and the costs in petrol and parking can make this stressful time even more worrying.
“It is important that we ensure our hardworking County Council staff are given the support they need at these difficult times and that by doing ‘the Smallest Thing’ this council can make a statement about its views on the people it employs”.