18 September 2019 - Article
A pregnant employee or (since 1 October 2014) an agency worker is entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal care appointments during working hours regardless of the number of hours worked or their length of service. The appointments must be on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor. In addition, an employer is entitled to ask an employee seeking to attend an ante-natal appointment (other than in respect of her first appointment) to produce an appointment card and/or a certificate confirming that she is pregnant.
An employee or agency worker is entitled to be paid at her normal hourly rate of pay during the period of time off for antenatal care. The rate is calculated by dividing the amount of a week’s pay by the number of their normal working hours in a week. If her working hours vary from week to week, they should be averaged over the previous 12 weeks. Overtime is only taken into account if it is compulsory and part of the normal working pattern.
As of 1 October 2014, partners of expectant mothers are entitled to take unpaid leave to accompany the expectant mother to antenatal appointments. The leave is restricted to two appointments and the time is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment. There is no qualifying period of service, meaning the right is exercisable from day one of employment. A partner is someone in a ‘qualifying relationship’ with the expectant mother or her expected child that is the:
- husband or civil partner;
- cohabiting partner in an enduring relationship;
- unborn child’s father;
- same-sex partner where the child was conceived by sperm donation;
- intended parent of a child in a surrogacy arrangement in certain circumstances.
From 5 April 2015 individuals and couples who are intending to adopt a child will have the right to attend appointments for the purpose of meeting the child. There is no qualifying period of service, meaning the right is exercisable from day one of employment. The key points of the new law are as follows:
- Employees or agency workers adopting a child or children on their own (i.e. without a partner) will be entitled to paid time off to attend five appointments.
- Employees or agency workers adopting a child or children with another (joint adopters) may elect for one of them to take paid time off to attend up to five appointments, while the other may take unpaid time off to attend up to two appointments.
- The time off which can be taken for each appointment (whether paid or unpaid) is a maximum of 6.5 hours.
- Employees and agency workers who are entitled to take time off to attend adoption appointments will be able to bring a tribunal claim if their employer (in the case of an employee) or the temporary work agency or the hirer (in the case of an agency worker) has unreasonably refused to let them take paid or unpaid time off to attend adoption appointments or failed to pay all or part of any amount to which they were entitled when exercising the right to take paid time off.
- Employees and agency workers will be protected from being subjected to a detriment as a result of exercising a right in relation to adoption appointments. Employees will be protected from dismissal with respect to the new rights to time off.
Click here see the Government’s guide on time off to accompany and pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments.