Last updated: 6 November 2023

Next review: 6 November 2024

Every year, around one in eight babies in the UK is born prematurely. As well as being one of the most stressful experiences a new parent can go through, there can be practical and financial concerns when a baby arrives sooner than expected.

In support of The Smallest Things campaign, Waltham Forest Council is the first local authority, and one of the first employers, in the UK to provide parents of premature babies with extra leave, at full pay, to help them through this difficult time.

We want to encourage other employers, including our own contractors, to do the same.

Leading employers including Sony Music have been inspired to follow our example.

For most employers, it’s a small change. Waltham Forest Council employs 2,650 staff and to date we have provided Premature Baby Leave and Premature Baby Pay to four employees.  We think it’s the right thing to do for an employee going through such a difficult time, and something that can make the difference between retaining and losing an experienced, valued member of staff.

We have produced the Premature Birth Policy (PDF) which any employer can customise and add to their existing maternity, paternity, and adoption leave policies.

We can also offer information and advice to any of our contractors or partners who want to make this change.  Please contact us by email.

The Smallest Things campaign

Founded as a registered charity in 2014 by Catriona Ogilvy, the Smallest Things campaign lobbies for a change to leave and pay entitlements for parents of premature babies, and has started a petition that’s so far been signed by more than 200,000 people.

Find out more about the campaign by visiting The Smallest Things website

Employer with Heart - Best Employer Charter

Badge saying supporting parents of premature babies with a heart in the middle

The Council has been awarded the Employer with a Heart Charter by the Smallest Things Campaign.

Find out more about the Employer with Heart Charter.