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.