New rights for fathers and partners to attend 2 antenatal appointments

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pregnantWe are all aware that pregnant women have to attend antenatal appointments, but did you know that since 1 October 2014 qualifying employees and agency workers now have the right to take time off work, unpaid, to accompany their pregnant partner to 2 antenatal appointments, with each appointment lasting no more than 6.5 hours?

Which of your employees qualify?

All qualifying employees will be given the right straight away, but agency workers will only receive the entitlement once they have completed a 12 week qualifying period (this assumes that they have not taken on a different role with the person hiring them during that period, or that there have been any breaks between the hire or during the hire).

To be able to qualify for this entitlement the employee or agency worker will need to ensure that:

  • They are the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner
  • They are living with the woman (which includes same-sex relationships) in a family relationship and that they are not a close relative of the woman
  • They are the expected child’s father
  • They are one of a same-sex couple who is to be treated as the other parent under the assisted reproduction provisions contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
  • They are a potential applicant for parental order where the child is born to a surrogate mother. (There is also additional criteria that needs to be met for an employee to qualify under this category)

What are your rights as an employer?

An employer, agency or hirer can require the employee or agency worker to provide them with the following:

  • That they have a relationship that qualifies with the pregnant woman or the expected child
  • That they are requesting the unpaid leave to attend the antenatal appointment
  • The appointment they are attending has been made by a registered doctor, nurse or midwife
  • They supply the date and time of the appointment

If the employee or agency worker does not provide this information then their request for the time off can be refused. If you as the employer do not allow the employee to take the time off after they have supplied the requested information, this can result in the employee going to an Employment Tribunal.

Employees and agency workers are also protected if a company tries to dismiss them by stating that the reason for the dismissal is that they took the time off for an antenatal appointment. The dismissal will automatically be deemed unfair.

So there you have it, fathers are getting more airtime in the run up to their partner’s having a baby which can’t be a bad thing if managed properly 🙂

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