Parents of premature babies working at Croydon Council will be given more time off as their employer signs up to a new charity charter.
The Smallest Things was set up by Croydon resident Catriona Ogilvy in September 2014 following the premature birth of her two sons.
The charity works across the country to raise awareness of premature birth and the associated care needs. It promotes good health of premature babies and their families, including care for mothers affected by postnatal depression, anxiety and other issues.
Now Croydon Council is signing up to join the Employer with Heart charter, meaning parents of premature babies will be offered extra support.
Croydon Council already supported parents of premature babies but the charter enhances the help offered to them.
The council has pledged to extend maternity leave for mothers who give birth prematurely, offer their partners more time to be with the baby in hospital and support both parents when they return to work.
Catriona Ogilvy, founder of The Smallest Things Charity, said: “We are delighted Croydon Council is signing up to our Employer with Heart charter.
“This will give parents whose babies are born prematurely the extra time they so desperately need. Visiting a fragile baby on a neonatal unit for weeks, sometimes months, is an uncertain and frightening time and shouldn’t be counted as maternity or paternity leave.
“The extra time offered by Croydon Council will give parents the time to bond with their babies, take care of them at home for longer and recover from the trauma themselves. We hope more councils will follow their lead.”
The Employer with Heart charter was launched in February 2018 and has seen more than 233,000 people sign a petition calling on the government to extend parental leave for all families affected by premature births.
“One in eight children is born prematurely and I’m proud we are doing more to support their parents.
“Croydon Council is taking a significant step forward by adopting the Employer with Heart charter and we are leading the way as one of the first local authorities to join the scheme.
“We will continue to do everything we can to support our staff.”
Councillor Simon Hall, cabinet member for finance and resources