New rules coming into effect next month under the Children and Families Act 2014 will see expectant fathers and partners of pregnant women given the statutory right to time off work to attend ante-natal appointments.

Under current regulations only expectant mothers are entitled to time off during working hours for antenatal care, however from 1st October 2014 an expectant father or person in a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman, will have the right to take unpaid leave to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments.

Who qualifies?
A “qualifying relationship” is defined as:
• The pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner (of either sex)
• You live with the woman in an enduring family relationship and are not a relative of the woman
• You are the expected child’s father
• You are one of a same sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent
• You are the potential applicant for a Parental Order to a child expected to be born to a surrogate mother

There is no qualifying period of service to exercise this entitlement – the right can be exercised from the start of employment.

• Leave is unpaid and will be capped at 6.5 hours per appointment.
• The appointment must have been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.
Evidence required

Employers are not entitled to ask for any evidence of the ante-natal appointments, such as appointment cards etc, as these are deemed the property of the expectant mother. However, they are entitled to ask for a written declaration stating the date and time of the appointment, that the employee is in a “qualifying relationship” with the mother of the child and that the leave is specifically for the purpose of attending ante-natal care with the expectant mother.

Any employee who is entitled to unpaid time off to accompany the expectant mother to an appointment and is denied this right by their employer can complain to the Employment Tribunal within a three month period.  The Tribunal can make a compensation order against the employer if the complaint is upheld.

If you experience problems with your employer not allowing you time off then our expert employment law solicitors can help.  Contact us today for friendly, expert employment law advice:

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