Changes to Employees Antenatal Leave Entitlements Implemented
22 October 2014 by Lawrence Adams
One of the biggest Employment law changes this October is aimed at encouraging shared parenting. From 01 October 2014, employees will benefit from the right to take unpaid time off during working hours to accompany a pregnant woman at two antenatal appointments.
The employee in question needs to establish a qualifying relationship with the pregnant woman. Qualifying relationships will include husbands or civil partners, fathers or parents and potential applicants for a parental order in respect of a child to be born to a surrogate mother. Only antenatal appointments that have been made on the advice of registered medical practitioners, midwives or nurses qualify under these provisions. An employer can ask an employee to sign a declaration confirming the qualifying relationship, the nature and time of the appointment.
If an employer refuses to allow the time off where the employee is entitled, an employment tribunal can award compensation equal to the pay the employee would have received during the working hours they would have taken the antenatal leave.
Agency workers who have been on assignment for not less than 12 weeks will also get the right to paid time off during working hours to attend an antenatal appointment. This right mirrors a similar right provided to female employees. The employer is entitled, but not required, to ask for proof that the employee is pregnant and for proof of the antenatal appointment. If it is reasonable to do so, the employer of an agency worker might refuse a request for paid time off. If a tribunal were to find that the rejection of the request was unreasonable, then the tribunal may order compensation equivalent to twice the amount that she was entitled to receive when taking time off.
The government has issued an advice booklet for employers in understanding the new provisions. This can be accessed here. Fisher Jones Greenwood offers advice on all arears of Human Resources and Employee leave entitlements. If you wish to contact one of our team, Beth Baird (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lawrence Adams (email@example.com) are both available on 01206 835 230.