Employees and agency workers who have a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or an expected child can take unpaid time off work to accompany the pregnant woman up to two antenatal appointments.
Employees have the right from day one of their employment. Agency workers will qualify after 12 weeks in the same assignment. The right to time off is capped at a maximum of six-and-a-half hours on each occasion, which can include travelling time, waiting time and attendance.
An employee or agency worker has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child if he or she:
- is the husband or civil partner of the pregnant woman
- lives with the pregnant woman in an enduring family relationship, but is not her parent, grandparent,
sister, brother, aunt or uncle
- is the father of the expectant child
- or is an intended parent in a surrogacy situation who meets certain conditions
The antenatal appointment must be made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.
Employers, hirers or work agencies are entitled (if they wish) to ask for a signed declaration confirming the individual’s relationship to the mother or her expected child. The time and date of the appointment, the purpose of the time off and that the appointment is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, nurse or midwife.
Employers, hirers or work agencies who unreasonably refuse to allow time off will be liable to pay compensation at twice the hourly rate for the period when the individual would have been entitled to be absent had the request not been refused.
Employees and agency workers are protected from detriment as a result of exercising or seeking to exercise the right to time off to accompany a pregnant woman at antenatal appointments. If an employee is dismissed as a result of exercising or seeking to exercise the right, the dismissal will be automatically unfair.