The new rights from 1 October 2014:

  • Employees who are the husband, civil partner or partner of a pregnant woman are entitled to accompany the woman to up to 2 x 6.5 hours’ antenatal appointments, which includes travel, waiting time and the appointment.
  • The new rights also apply to employees who are the father or parent of the expected child.
  • There is no qualifying period for employees to attain the new rights.
  • The new rights also apply to agency workers once they have worked in the same role with the same hirer for 12 weeks.
  • The time off is unpaid.
  • The right only applies when the appointment is on the advice of a medical doctor, midwife or health visitor.
  • The appointment may include relaxation classes or parent craft classes.
  • The employer may first require the employee or agency worker to provide signed confirmation in writing that:

– he/she is the husband, civil partner or partner of the pregnant woman or the father or parent of the expected child;

– the purpose in taking the time off is to accompany the woman to an antenatal appointment;

– the appointment is on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered nurse; and

– the date and time of the appointment.

Implications for employers

Employees will be entitled to:

  • Up to 6.5 hours’ double pay if an employer unreasonably refuses to let the employee or agency worker take the time off.
  • Compensation for unfair dismissal, if an employee or agency worker is dismissed because he/she made an application for time off or took time off.
  • Compensation, if an employee or agency worker is subject to a detriment because he/she made an application for time off or took time off.

Employers need to check that:

  • their family policies in their staff handbooks refer to the new rights; and
  • their HR departments and line managers are trained to minimise the risks of detriment and dismissal claims.

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