In the second part in our series looking at an employer’s obligations we focus on entitlement to time for antenatal care.
To read about health & safety and risk assessments see Part 1.
Once you know an employee is pregnant we look at who is entitled to time off for antenatal care or to attend adoption appointments, how much time can be taken and whether it is paid or unpaid.
How much time off does a pregnant woman get for antenatal care?
All employees, no matter how long they have worked for you or how many hours a week they work, are entitled to PAID time off during working hours to receive antenatal care. This mainly covers medical appointments but may extend to classes if recommended by a medical practitioner or midwife.
To help you practically manage this requirement, you may like to:
- Ask an employee to give you advance notice of her appointments so you can arrange cover
- After the first appointment you can ask to see evidence of each appointment (e.g. appointment card) for each appointment and she is not entitled to paid time off until she can produce this.
You may only refuse time off for antenatal care if it is reasonable to do so – for example, in rare cases where the employee only gave you very short notice of a non-urgent appointment and you are unable to arrange cover for her to attend.
Does her partner get time off too?
If you have an employee whose partner is pregnant, you should be aware they have a right to take time off during working hours to accompany her to antenatal appointments.
Any employee who is in a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman can take this time off. This would be:
- her husband or civil partner
- someone in an enduring family relationship with her
- the other parent of a same sex couple
- the father of the expected child.
The right is to take time off for two appointments of up to 6.5 hours each, including travel time. You can refuse a request to take leave if it is reasonable to do so. The right is to UNPAID time off however, you may at your discretion decide to pay an employee for this time off.
What happens if an employee is adopting a child?
As with pregnant employees, all employees who are planning to adopt are entitled to PAID time off during working hours to attend adoption appointments arranged by an adoption agency no matter how long they have worked for you, or how many hours a week they work. For joint adopters the right is for one of the couple to elect to take paid time off to attend five appointments and for the other one to take unpaid time off to attend two appointments.
What you should do in these circumstances:
- Ask an employee who elects to take paid time off to sign a declaration to this effect.
- Ask the employee to give you advance notice of appointments so you can arrange cover.
You may only refuse time off for adoption appointments if it is reasonable to do so, as in the example cited above.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.