Marks and Spencer launches neonatal leave policy

Marks and Spencer rewards employees with an extra day of paid leaveRetailer Marks and Spencer has introduced a neonatal policy with immediate effect to allow those with babies who need neonatal care to benefit from extra leave and pay without using up maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

The policy was introduced as part of a focus on providing more support and flexibility to staff to avoid missing out on moments that matter. It provides up to 12 weeks of fully paid leave to any UK employee whose baby requires specialist neonatal care.

The initiative was introduced following Jess Cooper, who works in the people team at the retailer’s London support centre, discovered that Ealing Broadway food sections manager Pam Hedderman spent six months of her maternity leave in hospital after her son was born prematurely. Cooper took the idea to help those who need neonatal support to senior leadership.

Sarah Findlater, group HR director at Marks and Spencer, said: “We’re continually listening to staff – like Pam and Jess – to make sure M and S is a great place to work for families and that means being an employer that supports them through all of life’s unexpected moments. We know that being a parent of a baby who requires neonatal care is an incredibly worrying time and that time may be spent with their baby in hospital, rather than at home.

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“We want to do all we can to support staff who find themselves in this heart-breaking situation and we hope the introduction of neonatal leave will provide some peace of mind so that their focus can be on their baby without having to worry about pay or using up their maternity, paternity or adoption leave.”

Last year, M and S launched a dedicated fertility treatment policy, giving staff up to 10 days off to attend appointments for up to three rounds of fertility treatment, as well as a flexible working offering through which retail managers can choose to spread their hours over five days, or to work a four-day compressed week or nine day compressed fortnight.