Letters, July 16 2021

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Mum and dad with baby in neonatal unit. Photograph: Peter Nicholls.
Don’t forget dads whose babies are in neonatal care

Becoming a parent and welcoming a baby into the world should be one of the happiest moments in life.

But for parents whose babies start life in neonatal care, those positive feelings of optimism and joy can quickly be replaced by doubt, worry and fear.

Having a baby in neonatal care is emotionally challenging for all parents, but for parents whose babies have been born since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been even harder.

Despite moves toward easing social distancing in the rest of society, ongoing neonatal access restrictions in neonatal units across Scotland continue to have a serious impact on families.

Parents have been unable to be with their baby as much as they need to be and some parents – often fathers and partners – have been unable to spend time with or be involved in their baby’s care at all.

It can be especially tough for dads who are often forced to return to work while their baby is still in a neonatal unit.

That’s why Bliss has long been calling on the Government to give both dads and mums an extra paid week off work for every week their baby is in neonatal care, to ensure the best outcomes for babies, families and employers.

We know many dads find it really difficult to talk about their feelings and often experience a sense of guilt when separated from their partner and baby.

At Bliss, we’re keen to let all dads know that our services are there for them too, whether they need information or support while their baby is in neonatal care.

For more information visit bliss.org.uk/dont-forget-dads

Peter Bradley – Information and Support Manager at Bliss Scotland, Scotland’s leading charity for babies born premature or sick.


Check your wages

Students and seasonal staff are being reminded by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check that they are being paid the National Minimum Wage.

All workers are legally entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage. This includes temporary seasonal staff, who often work short-term contracts in bars, hotels, shops and warehouses over the summer.

Last year (2020-21) HMRC helped 155,000 workers across the UK to recover more than £16 million in pay which was due to them.

HMRC is reminding workers to check their hourly rate of pay, and to also check any deductions or unpaid working time.

The National Minimum Wage hourly rates are currently:

£8.91 – Age 23 or over (National Living Wage)
£8.36 – Age 21 to 22
£6.56 – Age 18 to 20
£4.62 – Age under 18
£4.30 – Apprentice.
We want to ensure that Scotland’s seasonal workers and students are being paid what they are entitled to and, as the economy reopens, help employers if they are unsure of the rules.

Workers should check their hourly rate and look out for any deductions or unpaid working time which would reduce their pay. It could take them below the minimum wage.

HMRC investigates every complaint made about the minimum wage, so whether you are selling sun cream, giving a hotel room a clean or serving a strawberry smoothie, if you think you are being short-changed you should get in touch.

Anyone not being paid what they are entitled to can complain online at www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-complaint.

If they want to speak to someone they should phone the Acas Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0300 123 1100, who may transfer the call to HMRC.

Employers can also contact the Acas Helpline for free help and advice or visit GOV.UK to find out more.

Steve Timewell, director, individuals and small business compliance, HMRC