Time Off to Accompany a Pregnant Woman to Antenatal Appointments
If an employee becomes pregnant they have certain rights in addition to those enjoyed by non-pregnant employees. These include the right to maternity leave maternity pay protection against unfair treatment due to their pregnancy and paid time off for antenatal care.
From 1st October 2014 an additional right will be available to expectant fathers or the partner of a pregnant woman. They will be entitled to take unpaid time off work in order to accompany their partner to up to two antenatal appointments.
This right will also be available to the intended parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to be entitled to apply for a parental order in respect of the child.
The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has issued guidance to employers regarding this new right.
Employees will be able to exercise this right no matter how long they have been working for their employer and qualifying agency workers will be eligible after they have worked in the same job for a company for 12 weeks.
Employees will be entitled to take 6.5 hours to attend each antenatal appointment. This is half of the maximum number of hours that an employee is allowed to work under the Working Time Regulations 1998. Half a day is seen as enough time to attend an antenatal appointment including travel to and from the appointment. However employers are free to offer additional time.
As pregnant women will usually be required to attend around ten antenatal appointments during their pregnancy their partners will be able to choose how and when to use their entitlement to accompany the pregnant woman to two appointments. However they can also choose to take annual leave in order to attend these appoints should they wish to do so.
The Government has introduced this right in order to involve both of a child’s parents at the earliest stages of the pregnancy.
The right might be useful to partners of pregnant women who will not need to use their entitlement to annual leave. However as the time off would be unpaid employees may prefer to take annual leave in any event so that they do receive pay.
If you are pregnant at work and your employer is discriminating against you or treating you unfairly or you have any problems with your employer relating to maternity leave please contact the dedicated employment department at Michael Lewin Solicitors to discuss your situation and to see if we can assist you.