Time off for Antenatal Visits - New Rights
Most recent publicity regarding ‘Family Friendly’ rights has been on the topic of shared parental leave rights due in April 2015; BUT did you know a new statutory right sneaks into place next month? From 1st October 2014 employees and agency workers who are in a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman will have the right to take time off to attend antenatal appointments. This new right applies from day one of employment, so no continuous period of employment is required.
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
The father of the child
Intended parents in a surrogate situation who meet specified conditions
It is therefore possible that a woman’s partner may qualify for time off even if he is not the child’s natural father.
There are some restrictions to this right:
Those who qualify for time off only have the right to attend two antenatal appointments and they can’t take more than six and a half hours for each one.
The appointment must also have been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner; midwife; or nurse.
Whilst pregnant employees have the statutory right to reasonable time off work with pay to attend their antenatal appointments those who are in a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman have been given no corresponding right to be paid during this time. We suspect this will mean a low take-up.
Asking for proof
As the antenatal appointment relates to the mother, asking for proof of the appointment from the employee (an appointment card for example) will not be possible. However, you will be able to require the employee or agency worker to make a written declaration stating:
They have a qualifying relationship with the pregnant woman or her expected child;
They 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.
This can be given in an e-mail. If you subsequently discover that they’ve misled or deceived you, there will be grounds for disciplinary action.
Sentient clients with access to the members' area on our website for HR / Employment documents will find an Antenatal Appointment Request Declaration Form which can be used with effect from 1st October 2014. If you do not have access to the members' area but would like to gain access to our HR / Employment / Safety documents, please contact us to discuss how our services can benefit your business.