Time off to accompany pregnant women to ante-natal appointments.
When does the law change?
From 1 October 2014, an expectant father will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to up to 2 of her ante-natal appointments. The expectant father requesting this time off will not require to have worked for any qualifying period with his employer and, instead, this right will be available from “day one” of his employment.
Who has the right?
In addition to expectant fathers, any partners (including same sex partners) of pregnant women will be entitled to take this unpaid time off for to up to 2 of her ante-natal appointments. “Partner” is defined as the spouse or civil partner of the pregnant woman as well as a person (of either sex) in a long term relationship with the pregnant woman.
What if the woman’s husband is not the father of the child?
If the expectant father is not the pregnant woman’s husband/partner, then both the expectant father and the husband/partner will each be entitled to time off for up to two appointments.
What about a man who is an expectant father with two different women?Alternatively where a man is the expectant father for two different women at the same time, he will be entitled to attend up to two ante-natal appointments with each of the two pregnant women.
How much time off is permitted?
The entitlement is to unpaid leave to attend up to two appointments with the maximum time capped at 6 hours and 30 minutes per appointment. This is intended to equate to no more than half a day and is to include travelling time, waiting time and attendance at the appointment.
What happens if an employer refuses this time off?
If an employee is refused unpaid time off, that individual can complain to an employment tribunal within three months of the date of the refusal. An employment tribunal can uphold the claim and order compensation calculated as twice the hourly rate for each of the hours that the person would have taken off, if the right had been respected. Additionally the employee could claim any employment tribunal fee back from the employer.
It remains to be seen the extent to which this new right will be utilised by employees however employers should be educating line managers about these duties and ensuring that, where applicable, employees are afforded such rights.Simon AllisonPartner – Employment Law