From 1 October 2014 fathers and partners are entitled to take time off to attend ante natal appointments if they are in a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman. This new statutory right will be unpaid. Employees and agency workers who are considered to be in a qualifying relationship 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.
Employees may only attend two ante natal appointments and no more than a maximum of six and a half hours for each one. The appointment must have been made on the advice of a registered GP, midwife or nurse.
The employee will be required to confirm in writing their intentions to attend an ante natal appointment and include the following:
a) that the employee has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her
b) that the employee’s purpose in taking time off is to accompany a pregnant woman
to an ante-natal appointment;
c) that the appointment in question is made on the advice of a registered medical
practitioner, registered midwife or registered nurse; and
d) the date and time of the appointment.
The employer may not ask for proof in the form of an appointment card as that is the property of the expectant mother. The company may refuse the right to time off if not convenient. Employees do not need continuous service for this right, but agency workers need 12 weeks of the same kind of job to qualify.
The government has introduced this statutory requirement as research shows that less than one third of fathers take time off before the birth of their child and wish to encourage more involvement.