Guidance for Employers on New Ante-Natal Time Off Rights
BIS has published guidance for employers on the new right for a parent to accompany an expectant mother to ante-natal appointments. The new right comes into force on 1 October 2014.
Employees accompanying an expectant mother to her ante-natal appointments will be entitled to unpaid leave for one or two appointments, up to a maximum of 6.5 hours each. No qualifying period of service is required.
The new right applies to:
- The child’s father; and
- The pregnant woman’s partner (spouse, civil partner or person (of either sex) in a long term relationship with her).
It also extends to those who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to satisfy the conditions for and intend to apply for a Parental Order in respect of the child.
An employer is not entitled to ask for any evidence of the ante-natal appointments, such as an appointment card, as this is the property of the expectant mother. However, they can ask the employee for a declaration stating the date and time of the appointment, that the employee qualifies for the right through their relationship with the mother or child and that the time off is being taken for the purposes of attending an ante-natal appointment with the expectant mother made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, nurse or midwife.
The guidance also includes a set of Frequently Asked Questions and covers matters such as who can take unpaid time off, how much, what evidence the employer can require, what happens if the employer refuses time off (the employee can make a tribunal claim and if successful will be awarded compensation of twice the hourly rate of pay for each of the hours the employee would have taken off) and the protections in place for employees exercising the right (protection from detriment and dismissal).
The guidance, “Time off to Accompany a Pregnant Woman to Ante-Natal Appointments", indicates that:
- where a woman’s husband or partner is not the father of the child, both the husband/partner and the father have the right to take unpaid time off. In practice the woman is unlikely to want both to accompany her and there are therefore expected to be very few instances where both would seek to exercise the right; and
- a man who is an expectant father with two different women is entitled to unpaid time off to attend appointments with each pregnant partner.
Agency workers who have been doing the same kind of job for the same hirer for at least 12 weeks also qualify.
Employers should be considering how best to reflect the new right to unpaid time off in their family friendly/time off policies. If you require any assistance with updating your policies please contact your usual Doyle Clayton adviser or email email@example.com.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.