Significantly it is not just new mothers of premature babies (those born before 37 weeks’ gestation) who will benefit from the development – because Santander has also decided to introduce an entitlement to a period of compassionate leave (normally up to two weeks’ paid leave) for colleagues whose partner has had a premature birth and whose baby requires a period of hospitalisation.
Both innovations significantly improve paid leave provision for parents of premature babies who have hitherto had to use precious maternity/paternity leave for sometimes long periods spent in hospital rather than when the baby is allowed home and will come into effect from Sunday July 5 onwards.
They form part of a wider package of improvements to the Bank’s maternity, adoption and shared parental leave policy which will also see the number of paid weeks’ leave for all three areas elements extended from 16 to 20 weeks.
Welcoming the multi-pronged announcement, CWU national officer for Santander, Sally Bridge, said: “All of the improvements announced this morning are, of course, extremely positive, but it is the special provisions that are now being introduced for the parents of premature babies that are truly groundbreaking.
“The decision to allow additional paid leave to mothers whose babies are born before 37 weeks gestation – making up the difference in time between the moment the baby is born and 40 weeks gestation – is extremely significant, because it gives back precious maternity leave time after the birth that would otherwise have effectively been lost.
“Maternity and paternity leave is meant to be about special time bonding with the baby and helping new parents during the momentous and often tiring period when the new arrival is allowed home – not for the often stressful and exhausting time when premature babies are in a hospital incubator.
“Santander’s recognition of this fact is a testament to the importance it places on family friendly policies – and puts it right at the vanguard of not just the banking sector, but wider industry as well, in terms of what it will henceforth be offering employees with premature babies.”
Turning to the other elements of the package, Sally continues: “Today’s extension of paid maternity, adoption and shared parental leave from 16 to 20 weeks puts the Bank in the premier league with regard to its overall offering. It’s on the issue of premature babies, however, where Santander is in a league of its own – and I’d urge other responsible employers take note of the special provisions the Bank has set in place for these most deserving of new parents.”
- As part of its plans to support parents who experience premature births, Santander is signing the ‘Employer with Heart Charter’ established by ‘The Smallest Things’ charity which campaigns on behalf of the parents of premature babies.