Partners given right to time off for antenatal appointments
On 1st October 2014, employees who are in a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a pregnant woman were given the right to take time off work to go to antenatal appointments.
Pregnant workers are currently entitled to paid time off during working hours to attend antenatal appointments. They have to provide as much notice as possible and give evidence of appointments after the first appointment if requested by the employer.
New statutory right
An employee who has a ‘qualifying relationship’ with the pregnant worker is entitled to unpaid time off during working hours to attend the antenatal appointments. The limit is to attend two appointments with no more than 6.5 hours off for each appointment.
If a worker is dismissed or suffers a detriment as a result of making the request, this is automatically unfair.
Refusing the request
It’s possible to refuse the request, but only where reasonable. This is likely to be the case if not enough notice is given and adequate cover is not available.
The compensation is double the hourly rate for the time they were entitled to take off but couldn’t. The pregnant worker will also be entitled to double her hourly rate in compensation. Even when she isn’t working for her partner’s employer.
Who qualifies for it?
To have a ‘qualifying relationship’ with the pregnant worker, the employee must either be:
- A husband or civil partner
- Living with the pregnant worker in an enduring relationship (not as another family member such as parent or sibling)
- The expected child’s father
- One of a same-sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent where the child was conceived by sperm donation
- The potential applicant for a parental order in relation to a child expected to be born to a surrogate mother
An employer will be entitled to request proof of the ‘qualifying relationship’, and evidence of the date and time of the appointment. This is by way of a signed declaration. An employer is not entitled to see the pregnant worker’s appointment card (although she does have to show it to her own employer if asked).
If a pregnant worker is pregnant by somebody who isn’t her husband then, technically, the two workers can ask for the unpaid time off to accompany the pregnant worker. This is permitted, although it’s likely to be rare that both would go!
Equally, if a worker is the expected father of several women’s unborn children then he’s entitled to take the time off to accompany each one. Hopefully, this will be just as rare!
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