Parents of premature babies working for Sutton Council could soon get extra paid time off work.

The council is planning on applying for an ‘employer with heart charter mark’ in support of its employees with premature babies.

The scheme was started by The Smallest Things Campaign last year.

The organisation was founded in 2014 by Catriona Oglivy the mother of two premature babies.

On Monday (January 14) Sutton Council is set to approve a decision to apply for the charter mark and make changes to the council’s policies.

A report due to be discussed by the Strategy and Resources Committee states: “Giving mothers extended leave to recover from the physical and mental trauma of premature birth ensures that they are fit and able to return to work.

“The numbers of families affected by premature birth is relatively small. Just 7% of births end in pre-term labour, with the majority (85%) of premature births happening between 32-37 weeks, therefore requiring less additional leave.

“The small costs involved are likely to be outweighed by the successful return of mothers to the workplace.

“It is a small change but is the right thing to do for an employee going through such a difficult time and can make the difference between retaining and losing an experienced, valued member of staff.”

The report outlines that the council will update the current maternity policy so parents of babies born at or before 37 weeks will be entitled to receive an extra week’s Premature Baby Leave at full pay for each week their baby spends in hospital, before the original due date.

For partners the parental leave policy will be updated to include two weeks paid leave at full pay for partners of premature babies to use for time needed to be with their baby in hospital.

There would also be the potential for additional unpaid leave if it was needed.

It is estimated the total additional cost of this to the council would not be more than £7,000.

The strategy and resources committee is due to meet at Sutton Civic Offices from 7.30pm on Monday (January 14).