Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2013 position: 23

Categories:Employment,Family,UK

New right for those in ‘qualifying relationship’ with a pregnant woman or her expected child to attend antenatal appointments

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduces a new right for employees and agency workers in a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a pregnant woman or her expected child to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to antenatal appointments. Where an employer unreasonably refuses time off to attend such an appointment, the employee or agency worker will be able to complain to an employment tribunal. In addition, employees and agency workers will be protected from detriment or dismissal for exercising the right to take time off work to attend such appointments. The new rights come into force on 1 October 2014.

Currently, pregnant employees (and eligible agency workers) have the statutory right to take paid time off work to receive antenatal care. ‘Antenatal care’ covers medical appointments but can also include relaxation classes and parentcraft classes. The woman’s husband or partner currently has no right to take time off work to accompany her to such appointments or classes.

However, from 1 October 2014, employees (and eligible agency workers) who are in a ‘qualifying relationship’ with the pregnant woman or her expected child will be entitled to take unpaid time off to accompany the woman to appointments ‘at any place for receiving antenatal care’. The right is to take a maximum of 6.5 hours of unpaid time off work on no more than two occasions. It will be up to the employer to decide whether it wishes to make a payment in respect of the time off…

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