Marks & Spencer has implemented a Neonatal Leave Policy, offering up to 12 weeks of paid leave to employees whose babies require specialist neonatal care.

The new policy aims to provide support to families of premature babies or those needing additional care after birth.

This will allow mothers to spend crucial time with their newborns without worrying about work or depleting their maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

The inspiration behind the policy came from Pam Hedderman, a food section manager at an M&S store in Ealing Broadway.

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During her time working at her local store, she shared her story with Jess Cooper, a member of M&S’ People team at the Support Centre in London.

Pam’s son, Harrison, was born prematurely and faced numerous challenges, spending six months of her maternity leave in the hospital with him.

This left her with minimal time at home before returning to work. Jess was inspired by Pam’s experience and collaborated with M&S to introduce Neonatal Leave to provide support to those who need it most.

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M&S recognizes the concerns and anxieties faced by parents of babies requiring neonatal care. Often, parents spend significant time with their babies in the hospital, limiting their time at home.

The introduction of Neonatal Leave aims to alleviate these worries and provide peace of mind, allowing employees to focus on their baby’s well-being without concerns about pay or exhausting their existing leave entitlements.

Sarah Findlater, M&S Group HR Director, emphasized the company’s commitment to creating a supportive environment for families.

She said: “We’re continually listening to colleagues – like Pam and Jess – to make sure M&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.

“We want to do all we can to support colleagues 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.”

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By listening to the experiences of employees like Pam and Jess, M&S aims to be an employer that understands and assists employees through all unexpected life events.

The implementation of Neonatal Leave demonstrates M&S’ dedication to supporting colleagues during challenging and heart-breaking situations, ensuring their attention can be fully devoted to their newborns during this critical time.

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