ACAS have recently published new guidelines aimed at supporting parents with premature or sick babies.

The guide, which can be found on the ACAS website, provides advice for employers on best practice when managing employees who are experiencing the very stressful and emotionally difficult circumstances of caring for a premature or ill child.

A significant feature of the guidelines is the emphasis on how an employer can approach these situations on a personal level, including how and when employers should communicate with their employees, providing them with key reminders for dates such as the deadline for the MATB1 Form so that they do not miss out on any statutory pay.

ACAS urges employers to be flexible following the birth of a child as well as on return to work stating employers must ‘recognise that the plans the parents had made prior to the birth with regard to returning to work may now have changed’, suggesting that they give parents either extra paid/unpaid time off or allow for flexible working arrangements to enable parents to care for their premature or sick child, without the stress of missing work or having to use up their annual leave entitlement.

Business minister Margot James said: “Working parents deserve support at work, and those who have premature babies should expect nothing less than total backing from their employers at what can be an exceptionally difficult and worrying time.

“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.”

Whilst different circumstances may mean that individuals have different needs in relation to leave and pay, the ACAS guidelines provide invaluable recommendations on how to best manage the sensitive situation, which many employers will often be inexperienced in dealing with and grateful for the source of advice.

If you need assistance with any employment law related issue you can contact the team by calling 0161 930 5151 or via e-mail at

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