Fathers can ask for time off to accompany a pregnant partner to antenatal appointments
On 1 October 2014, a new statutory right was introduced entitling expectant fathers and partners of pregnant women to take unpaid leave to accompany her to two of her antenatal appointments.
What is the right?
The entitlement is to unpaid time off for one or two appointments (capped at 6 hours 30 minutes per appointment), to enable the expectant father or partner to accompany the pregnant woman to the appointment. The time off is intended to cover travelling time, waiting time and attendance at the antenatal appointment. Where more time is required this can be taken from annual leave. Employers, agencies and hirers may offer more time off if they wish.
Who is eligible?
The right is available to employees and qualifying agency workers. Whereas employees are entitled to the right from the first day of employment, agency workers who are not employees of the agency must have been working in the same kind of job for the same hirer for at least 12 weeks to qualify for the right.
What evidence should be provided?
An employer, hirer or work agency cannot request evidence of the antenatal appointment (e.g. the appointment card). However they can request a signed declaration confirming that: they have a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child; the time off is to accompany the pregnant woman to the antenatal appointment; the appointment is made on medical advice; and the date and time of the appointment.
What happens if the right is refused?
If an employee or agency worker who is entitled to unpaid time off is refused this right, they may complain to the employment tribunal. If the complaint is successful, the employer, hirer or work agency will be ordered to pay compensation calculated at twice the hourly rate of pay for the hours that they would have taken off had they been allowed the right.