The government’s Business, Innovation and Skills department has published a guide for employers on the new right to unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments.
The right came into force on 1 October 2014 (and from 5 April 2015 for adopters to attend meetings in advance of a child being placed with them for adoption) under the Children and Families Act 2014.
The right is available to employees and qualifying agency workers from “day one”. It applies to the pregnant woman’s husband, civil partner or partner (including a same-sex partner), the father or parent of a pregnant woman’s child, and intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions.
The entitlement is to unpaid leave for one or two appointments and the amount of time off is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment.
Employers, agencies or hirers are free, however, to offer more time to employees at their discretion.
It is important that the following distinction is made; this is not a right to attend an ante-natal appointment and the employee may only accompany the pregnant mother if they are invited to do so by them.
Employers are entitled to ask, from the employee, for a signed declaration confirming particular details about the ante-natal appointment and their relationship with the pregnant woman to help safeguard against any false requests.
For more information on this or any other employment law or HR issue, please contact Claire Bell or Nic Elliott.
Posted on January 12, 2015