With effect from 1 October 2014, prospective fathers and partners now have the right to take unpaid leave to attend antenatal appointments. This unpaid time off from work can be taken by employees and qualifying agency workers if they meet one of the following criteria. The individual should be:
- the baby’s father;
- the expectant mother’s spouse, her civil partner, or partner (of either sex in an enduring relationship;
- intended parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to be entitled to and intend to apply for a parental order in respect of that child.
There is no qualifying period for employees. This is a right from the first day that they are employed. However, to qualify, agency workers need to be doing the same kind of job for the same ‘hirer’ for at least 12 weeks. The maximum time per appointment is capped at 6 hours and 30 minutes but an employer may offer more time off.
If an employee or qualified agency worker is refused time off to accompany the expectant mother, they may make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months. If the Tribunal upholds the complaint, compensation may be awarded. This would be calculated as twice the hourly rate of pay for each of the hours that the person would have taken off if the right had been respected.
Further information can be found in an employer guide by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/antenatal-appointments-time-off-to-accompany-a-pregnant-woman