A Scottish MP will today launch a personal crusade to change the law so that parents of premature and sick babies can have extended parental leave.

David Linden, whose two children were born prematurely, will urge MPs to back his Parental Leave (Premature and Sick Babies) Bill, which, if passed, would extend parental leave for parents of babies who spend an extended period of time in neonatal care.

Since November 2018, the SNP MP for Glasgow East has raised the matter three times with Theresa May at Prime Ministers Question. But he noted, as yet, the UK Government had not acted.

Under current UK legislation, fathers get a maximum of two weeks paid parental leave and must use it within the first 56 days after their child is born. Campaigners say this sees many parents having to return to work while their new-born babies are still struggling in incubators.

Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the UK and each year 100,000 babies spend an extended period in neonatal care.

Mr Linden's campaign for a change in the law is backed by a number of charities including Bliss, Tamba and The Smallest Things.

Speaking ahead of presenting his Bill in the Commons, the backbencher, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Premature and Sick Babies, said: “UK legislation is seriously failing parents whose children are born sick or premature by forcing them back to work while their babies are still in neonatal care.

"Despite growing pressure, the Tory Government has repeatedly failed to act. Parents cannot afford to wait any longer to receive the long-overdue support they need.

"For me, this is personal and based on real, lived experience. Each year 100,000 babies in the UK will spend an extended period in neonatal care; just as our children, Isaac and Jessica, did in 2015 and 2018.

“For us, that meant weeks watching our children growing in incubators whilst hooked up to countless machines and wires.”

Mr Linden said at present parents were very much reliant on an “employment lottery” by hoping and praying that their employer would give them longer time off; even though the law did not require it.

“By allowing my Bill to proceed today, we can right a wrong and truly tackle a burning injustice, which can be so easily be extinguished for the parents of premature and sick babies."

The backbencher will raise his bill during a 10-minute rule motion, an opportunity for MPs to raise a specific matter. However, it is only likely to become law with the Government’s backing.