Law change for expectant fathers, partners and intended parents
10 October 2014 by Charlotte Knappett
The Government has announced that, as of the start of October, fathers and same sex partners of expectant mothers have the right to take time off work for antenatal appointments.
The new rules only guarantee unpaid time off for two antenatal appointments of six and a half hours each, but employers can offer more time at their own discretion. The rules also apply to the intended parents of a child born to a surrogate mother, as well as long term partners of the expectant mother, even if they are not married.
The Government states that research shows a third of fathers do not take any time off before the birth of their child. The introduction of this policy, from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is a major step, forming part of a wider programme of changes the Government is making to enable fathers and partners to be more involved in childcare from an early stage.
The Minister for Employment Relations, Jo Swinson said:
“Parenting is a shared endeavour and we want to encourage full involvement from fathers from the start. The right to time off work to attend antenatal appointments will help dads and partners play an important role in the early stages of pregnancy and will kick start a culture change in workplaces and help men feel more confident talking to their employers about taking time off for childcare. Dads have a key role to play in the first weeks and months of a baby’s life and it is right that the arrangements for parental leave should reflect that.”
The next change to be introduced, will be Shared Parental Leave and Pay. This will come into effect for babies due on or after 5 April 2015, or adoptions where the child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.
Under the new rules, working couples will be able to share untaken maternity leave and pay, following the first 2 weeks recovery period that mothers have to take off after birth, so up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared. These rules also apply to intended parents of a child born through surrogacy, and similar arrangements will be in place for adopters.
The Government believes this will enable both mothers and fathers to keep a strong link to the workplace, encourage fathers to play a greater role in the early stages of their child’s life and allow employers and employees greater flexibility in reaching agreement on how to best balance work and home needs.