Rights for Time off to Attend Ante-Natal Appointments
From 1 October 2014 an expectant father or a pregnant woman’s partner became entitled to unpaid time off to accompany the pregnant woman to 2 ante-natal appointments.
The right applies to all employees with no qualifying period. Agency workers are entitled to the time off once they have reached the 12 week qualifying period under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
Employees and qualifying agency workers are eligible to the time off if they are either:
1. the baby’s father or parent; 2. the expectant mother’s spouse, civil partner or partner in an enduring relationship; or 3. intended parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement where they expect to be entitled and apply for a parental order in respect of that child.
Eligible employees and qualifying agency workers are entitled to accompany the pregnant woman to 2 appointments. The maximum time permitted per appointment is six and half hours which includes time for travelling, waiting and attendance at the appointment.
Employers will not be entitled to ask for evidence of the appointment, such as the appointment card, as this is not the property of the employee but the pregnant woman.
However, the employer can ask for a declaration from the employee stating:
1. they are in a qualifying relationship either with the pregnant woman or the expected child; 2. are taking the time off to accompany the pregnant woman to the ante-natal appointment which has been arranged on the advice of a registered medial practitioner, midwife or nurse; and 3. the date and time of the appointment.
If employers do not permit the time off a complaint can be bought in the Employment Tribunal and if the complaint is upheld an award can be made of twice the hourly rate of pay for each hour that could have been taken off.
Employees and qualifying agency workers are also protected from any detriment arising from the exercise of their right to the time off. Dismissing an employee will be automatically unfair if the principal reason is for exercising their right to time off and the normal qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims will not apply.
The Department of Business Innovation & Skills have produced an employer’s guide to the new right which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/351413/bis-14-1063-time-off-to-accompany-a-pregnant-woman-to-ante-natal-appointments-employer-guide.pdf
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