From 1st October 2014 new rules come into force which will enable fathers to be and partners of pregnant women to take time off for antenatal appointments. The Children and Families Act 2014 aims to give employees more flexibility so that it is not just pregnant women who are entitled to time off.
The new rules allow a prospective father or other qualifying person to take time off work to attend two antenatal appointments (maximum of six and a half hours each).
Under the new act, which amends the Employment Rights Act 1996, there is no continuous period of employment required to qualify so this statutory right will be available to employees and agency workers from the start of their employment.
Employees are deemed to have a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a woman or her expected child if:
• They are the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner.
• They live with the woman (whether in a heterosexual or same sex relationship) in an enduring family relationship and are not a relative of the woman.
• They are the expected child’s father.
• They are one of a same sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent under the assisted reproduction provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
• They are the potential applicant for a Parental Order in relation to a child who is expected to be born to a surrogate mother.
• Under the new rules the employers are entitled to request documentary evidence of an appointment. The employee must provide a written declaration stating:
• The qualifying relationship they have with the pregnant woman or expected child.
• The purpose of taking the time off is specifically to attend an antenatal appointment.
• The appointment has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.
• The date and time of the appointment.
Where it is reasonable to do so, an employer has the right to refuse time off. However the legislation does not specify when this might be the case which may make it difficult for an employer to justify a refusal.
Employers are not obliged to pay employees for time off to attend antenatal appointments unless otherwise agreed. Unlike the rights of pregnant women who are paid their normal hourly rate whilst taking time off to attend antenatal appointments.
For further information or advice on this new legislation please contact us at Solve HR.