From 1st October 2014 there is a statutory right to take time off to attend two antenatal appointments from day one of employment. These should not be for more that six and a half hours and must be made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse. 

Who qualifies for it?

Employees and agency workers who are considered to be in a qualifying relationship for the purposes of this new statutory right include:

• A pregnant woman's husband, partner or civil partner, i.e. if she's in a same-sex relationship

• The father of the child

• The parent of the child; and

• Intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions.

A woman's partner may qualify for time off even if he is not the child's natural father.

Is it paid?

Pregnant employees have the statutory right to reasonable time off work with pay to attend their antenatal appointments. This does not extend to someone in a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman. On this basis, there is likely to be a low take up with employees taking annual leave instead.

Can you ask for proof of the appointment?

An Employer cannot ask for proof of an antenatal appointment, i.e. an appointment card. That's because it relates to the mother, not the father or parent of the child.

An Employer can ask the employee or agency worker to make a written declaration stating that:

• They have a qualifying relationship with the pregnant woman or her expected child;

• Are taking the time off specifically to attend the antenatal appointment with her;

• The appointment has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse; and

• The date and time of the appointment.

If it is found that the Employee has misled or deceived the Employer then this may be ground for disciplinary action.

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