Environmental services group Urbaser have agreed to offer extra support for their UK staff who are the parents of premature babies, after being encouraged to do so by Waltham Forest Council as part of a new contract for neighbourhood services in the borough.
In 2017, Waltham Forest Council became the first UK employer to adopt the Smallest Things campaign which provides parents of premature babies with extra leave, at full pay, to help them through what can be a very difficult time. Mothers and fathers of babies born at or before 37 weeks can have an extra week’s paid Premature Baby Leave for every week from their baby’s birth until their original due date.
As part of a new neighbourhood services contract between the council and Urbaser, to begin in autumn 2019, it was agreed that the Smallest Things policy would be introduced to benefit all Urbaser’s UK staff.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We’re pleased to lead the way and encourage our partners and contractors toward improving their offer to staff who are the parents of premature babies. Since we introduced the Smallest Things policy, we have been approached by other employers wanting to know more about how they might implement it for their staff. We are always willing to share our experiences and explain how it has benefited our employees as well as our residents.
“Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences in life. When babies arrive prematurely it is even more important that parents can spend quality time with their little ones.”
Several Waltham Forest Council staff have benefitted from the Smallest Things policy since its introduction – and it has made a huge difference to them. Rochelle Francis, who works in the council’s customer services department, became the mother of premature triplets born three months early.
Rochelle said: “Knowing your employer has a scheme like this really helps. When you have premature babies, you might not have enough clothing or enough furniture. It really helps to know that you have that backing, that you have some peace of mind.
“I feel proud to work for an organisation that’s leading the way on this.”
The new neighbourhood services contract in Waltham Forest will see Urbaser take on waste and recycling collections - they already carry out street cleaning and grounds maintenance services in the borough.
Javier Peiro, Managing Director, Urbaser Ltd said: “We are pleased that London Borough of Waltham has confirmed its eight-year contract for us to provide a waste and recycling collection service alongside our current street cleansing and grounds maintenance responsibilities. We are committed to supporting both our employees and the local community as much as possible. The introduction of the Smallest Things Policy, the recruitment of new apprentices and the community project fund are some examples of how we are achieving this.”