DUDLEY council is being asked to give more paid time off for parents of children born prematurely.

Cllr Ruth Buttery, the Conservative cabinet member for children and young people, is asking councillors to back a move to extend maternity leave for mothers who give birth early.

The member for the Hayley Green and Cradley South ward is asking that the council changes its procedures to give staff at least at least two weeks’ paid compassionate leave if their child is born before 37 weeks.

In her written motion to the full council, she says: “Parents facing the worry and uncertainty of visiting their premature baby in hospital should not spend that time as maternity or paternity leave. 

“The council understands that premature babies need more time; time to develop, time to grow and time for mums and babies to bond at home after neonatal intensive care.”

Asking the the authority to back the ‘Smallest Things Employer with Heart Charter’ being promoted by The Smallest Things Charity which campaigns on behalf of premature babies and their families.

In addition to extra pay, Cllr Buttery says council staff should be granted additional compassionate leave dependent on when their baby comes home from hospital.

If passed Dudley would join Croydon, Westminster and Leeds councils who have already backed the charter along with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals and Medway NHS Foundation Trusts.

Cllr Buttery explaining her reasons for tabling the motion said she became involved after a constituent who had gone through the trauma of a premature birth contacted her.

“After looking into the charity and speaking to local authority officers and other councillors it was decided the best way to change our policy was by tabling a motion to the full council,” she said.

“Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often but if we are serious about the holistic health and well being of our staff they shouldn’t have to go through the pressure of an a early birth while worrying about having to return to work.”

Full council takes place on Monday, October 7.