Allowing staff time off to attend antenatal appointments is something which all employers must agree to and the rules on this are defined within the Employment Rights Act 1996. Pregnant employees must be allowed a reasonable amount of paid time off to attend antenatal care, regardless of their length of service. This time off for antenatal appointments should not be treated as sick leave and is a separate classification of leave which staff are entitled to. In this guide, we explore the laws you need to keep in mind and how you can approach helping your staff members attend their appointments.
How to approach antenatal leaveWhile there’s no definition of what length of time is considered to be reasonable, most women are expected to undergo between 7-10 antenatal midwife appointments during their pregnancy. So it’s important you accommodate for:
- Antenatal classes: Also referred to as “parentcraft”, these help upcoming parents to prepare for the birth of their child. This helps them gain confidence and understanding of the process.
- Medical appointments: Such as time off for baby scans. These are essential for parents as it can determine the gender and health of their baby.
Do staff receive paid time off for antenatal care (UK)?Pregnant employees should be paid their normal rate of pay for time spent at any antenatal appointments, including travel to and from their appointment. These can include visits for medical examinations as well as relaxation and parenting classes if recommended by a medical practitioner. Apart from the first midwife appointment, you can request that pregnant employees provide evidence of the time and date of future appointments. You can expect these to be arranged at regular intervals up until the birth including after 16 weeks, 25 weeks and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
How to manage leave for antenatal appointmentsIt’s inappropriate to refuse any reasonable requests for time off for antenatal care. The same goes for requiring a staff member to make the time up at a later date. Pregnant workers must not be treated any less favourably for exercising their right. This could lead to claims of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
Antenatal leave for fathersWith soon-to-be mothers covered, you should also remember a father’s rights to attend antenatal appointments. To clarify, the rules are slightly different for:
- Civil partners.
- Those who stand to become parents through a surrogacy agreement.
- Two antenatal appointments (taking up to 6 and a half hours on each occasion).