The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), an independent and statutory compensation scheme for customers of authorised financial services firms, has extended its maternity and paternity leave provision for 191 employees, to accommodate and support staff whose children are born prematurely.
The fully-paid extended maternity leave initiative, effective from April 2019, enables mothers who give birth prematurely to lengthen their leave entitlement by the number of days their baby is born prior to the due date. The organisation has also doubled its paid paternity leave, from two weeks to four weeks, and added the same provision to extend leave if a child is born prematurely.
Under current UK law, maternity and paternity leave begins the day after the birth, regardless of whether the baby is born prematurely.
The family-friendly leave arrangements have been designed to help mitigate the stress and uncertainty around having a premature baby, ensuring that the time parents spend in hospital after an early birth is not counted as maternity or paternity leave.
The provision also aligns with the business strategy FSCS into the 2020s: Protecting the future. Introduced in November 2018, the strategy identifies potential challenges for the coming decade and lays out four organisational priorities in overcoming these: prepare, protect, promote and prevent.
David Blackburn, chief people officer at FSCS, said: “We know that to deliver our strategy we need a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can succeed in achieving his or her personal and professional goals.
“We pride ourselves on the level of support and compassionate understanding we provide for our employees. We appreciate that it can be an extremely difficult and worrying time for those who experience premature labour and family is of the upmost importance.”
FSCS has also liaised with charity and campaigning group The Smallest Things, which supports the health of premature babies and their families. FSCS has achieved the charity’s Best Employer Charter Mark to become an Employer with Heart.
Catriona Ogilvy, founder at The Smallest Things, said: “We are delighted that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has signed up to our Employer with Heart Charter and will give parents of babies born prematurely the extra time they need.
“Visiting a fragile baby on a neonatal unit for weeks, sometimes months, is terrifying and shouldn’t be counted as maternity or paternity leave. Bringing [a] baby home can be difficult too, as often there are ongoing medical issues and concerns about development and immunity.
“This extra time will give parents more chance to bond with their babies, take care of them at home for longer and recover from the trauma themselves.”