Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023: what you need to know

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Statutory neonatal care and pay (SNCP) is scheduled to be introduced in April 2025. Here we explain everything you need to know about this new entitlement, which is the result of the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023.  

What is the new entitlement to neonatal care leave and pay?  

This entitlement will be for parents who have a child who requires neonatal care in the first 28 days following its birth and will be for a maximum of 12 weeks. 

The intention (as far as we currently know) is that this statutory payment is expected to follow the same administration process as other statutory payments, such as statutory parental bereavement pay and leave, and other parental leave and pay entitlements. 

Payments will be made by employers directly to relevant employees via your normal payroll process and then claimed back through the usual FPS (full payment submission) and EPS (employment payment summary) process in the same way as parental leave. 

This will allow both parents to take up to an additional 12 weeks of paid leave, on top of any other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave, so they can spend this critical period with their baby. The neonatal care leave (NCL) must be taken within 68 weeks of the baby’s birth, and will require an additional statutory absence type for HR and payroll absence reporting and pay. 

Who qualifies for neonatal care leave and pay? 

Neonatal care leave will be available to employees from their first day in a new job. It will apply to parents of babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of seven full days or more. 

As with other types of parental leave, to qualify for Statutory Neonatal Care Pay (SNCP), an employee will be required to be employed for a minimum of 26 weeks before the leave is requested, and have average earnings that are above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL), which is currently £123 a week, mirroring the entitlement to statutory maternity pay (SMP). 

Summary of neonatal care leave and pay details 

  • Scheduled to come into force from April 2025 
  • Neonatal Care Leave (NCL) will be a day-one employment right 
  • Applies to parents of babies aged 28 days or less if the baby is in hospital for a continuous period of seven days or more
  • Provides a maximum of an additional 12 weeks leave, which must be taken in one block (expected to be at the end of maternity/paternity leave) 
  • Neonatal Care Pay (NCP), as with other forms of parental leave, will be available subject to 26 weeks’ service and earnings above the LEL – mirroring entitlement to maternity pay 
  • Applies to each parent in addition to other parental leave 
  • Must be taken separately from other statutory leave. It’s expected that this will usually be added on to the end of other parental leave, but final guidance has still not been published  
  • Must be taken within 68 weeks of birth, crossing payroll years for record-keeping purposes (records will need to be kept longer than one tax year) 
  • Some companies may want to consider occupational leave/pay in line with other types of statutory leave 

New acronyms 

  • SNCP  Statutory Neonatal Care and Pay  
  • NCP – Neonatal Care Pay 
  • NCL – Neonatal Care Leave 

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About the author

Claire Warner FCIPP is Ciphr’s regulatory analyst, and one of our team of payroll experts. She says: “Having ‘fallen’ into payroll like so many others, I’ve worked in the profession for over 40 years in multiple roles. This includes running payrolls in various industry sectors and working with software houses to develop software and implement systems for client. I’ve also designed and delivered professional training and qualifications, and sessions, conferences and webinars on various payroll-related subjects. I now use this knowledge and love of payroll and the legislation that impacts it to help guide, inform and support others within the profession.”