October 30, 2014
Time off to accompany a Pregnant Woman to Ante-Natal Appointments
From 1 October 2014, an expectant father or the partner of a pregnant woman will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to attend antenatal appointments with their partner.
Research evidence shows that a third of fathers do not take time off before the birth of their child. Enabling fathers the right to take time off to attend antenatal appointments comes as an important part of the Government’s aim to encourage involvement of fathers with their children from the earliest possible stages and ultimately, encourage shared parenting.
There is no requirement for a father to have been employed prior to the appointment date as this is a ‘day one’ right. For an agency worker, there is a requirement for them to have been doing the same kind of job for the same organisation for at least 12 weeks.
The entitlement is to unpaid leave to attend 2 appointments with the maximum time capped at 6.5 hours, enabling the father to have sufficient time to travel to the appointment, waiting time and time in attending the appointment.
What does this mean for employers?
If you do not already offer expectant fathers the opportunity to take time away from the workplace to attend antenatal appointments, or your policies do not coincide with the new law, you will need to make changes.
This is not to say that as an employer, you need to figure out who in your workforce may be an expectant father and ensure that all are attending antenatal appointments, but if a refusal is made and the father is unable to attend two antenatal appointments as a result, a claim can be made to the Employment Tribunal for twice the hourly rate of pay for each of the hours that would have been taken. This is likely to amount to the equivalent of 13 hours pay.
Of greater importance is the need to ensure the father requesting the right to attend antenatal appointments is not treated any differently to other members of staff that do not request it. Protection is provided to fathers who are disadvantaged as a result of making such a request. If an employee is dismissed as a result of seeking to exercise this statutory right, the dismissal will be deemed to be automatically unfair.
At Tayntons, we recommend contracts of employment and company handbooks are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure changes to employment law are reviewed and the business compliant. We can review your contracts and policies so please feel free to give us a call on 0800 158 4147 to discuss your employment needs.