The “law does not work” for the parents of premature and sick babies, SNP MP David Linden warned, as he seeks a change in the law.

Linden will today ask the House of Commons to back his Parental Leave (Premature and Sick Babies) Bill which, if passed, will extend parental leave for parents of babies who spend an extended period in neonatal care.

At present, the time granted by the law for parental leave is often superseded by the time spent by a baby in neonatal care.

Under current UK legislation, fathers receive a maximum of two weeks paid paternity leave and must use it within the first 56 days after their child is born.

However, the charity Bliss pointed to the average length of stay for a baby born between 28 to 31 weeks being 44 days.

Campaigners say this often results in parents being forced to return to work while their children are still struggling inside incubators or having to rely on the employment lottery, counting on the compassion of their employer to grant an extended leave.

Linden, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Premature and Sick Babies, has has raised the matter directly with Theresa May at Prime Minister's Questions three times since November 2018 and repeatedly raised the issue in meetings with government departments – but the Tory Government has refused to act.

The bill is backed by charities including Tamba, The Smallest Things and Bliss.

Bliss reported that 66% of dads had to return to work while their baby was still receiving specialist neonatal care.

Speaking before presenting his bill in the Commons, Linden said: "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.

“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."