On 8 September 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills published its guidance on the right to "Time off to accompany a pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments". This is a new statutory right applying to employees (and also to certain agency
workers) and it comes into force on 1 October 2014.
Employees exercising the right are entitled to unpaid leave for up to 2 ante-natal appointments, with the total time capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment (including any travelling and waiting time).
The right applies to employees from day one of their employment and can be exercised:
• by the pregnant woman’s partner
• by the father of the pregnant woman’s unborn child, and
• by intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet certain specified conditions.
“Partner” includes the spouse or civil partner of the expectant mother, and also any person, of either sex, who is in a long-term relationship with her.
The employee’s employer is not entitled to ask the employee for evidence of the ante-natal appointment, but is entitled to ask for a signed declaration by the employee providing:
• details of the employee’s relationship to the pregnant woman or unborn child
• details of the date and time of the appointment
• confirmation that the appointment has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse, and
• confirmation that the employee’s purpose in taking the time off is to accompany the pregnant woman to the appointment.
There is no statutory definition of ante-natal care, but previous guidance on the right of a woman to attend ante-natal appointments has not restricted the right simply to medical examinations. For example, ante-natal appointments can possibly include relaxation
classes recommended by a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor, although the position of Employment Tribunals on this is not always consistent.
The new right to time-off also includes the right to bring an Employment Tribunal claim if the employee is not allowed by their employer to exercise the right or is subjected to a detriment or dismissed by their employer for doing so.
It’s also important to remember that the new right is only a right to time off to accompany the pregnant woman to the ante-natal appointment and does not provide an entitlement actually to attend the appointment. The expectant mother still has the right to
refuse to have her partner or the child’s father present, if she does not want them to be at the appointment.
Finally, employers also need to be aware of a further new right, providing an entitlement to paid and unpaid time off work for adopters to attend meetings in advance of a child being placed with them for adoption. This right does not come into force until 5
April 2015 however, and there’ll be more information available on our website about the new right before that time. So watch this space!
For more information about any of the above or for practical commercial advice on this or any other aspect of employment law, please contact
Nigel Crebbin of the Berg Employment Team on 0161 833 9211 or email him at
Follow us on Twitter: @Berg_HR
(The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should
be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.)