November 11, 2014

Fathers now entitled to attend antenatal appointments

The changes were introduced as part of the Children and Families Act 2014 and took effect from October 1st.

The rules will ensure that the time obligations for husbands and partners are acknowledged, and will encourage their involvement from the early stages of the pregnancy in tandem with the government’s Shared Parental Leave provision.

‘Partner’ can mean either the spouse or civil partner of the pregnant woman or a person of either sex in a long-term relationship with her.

Minister of 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.”

Previously, there had been no legal provision to allow the partner to attend these appointments, subjecting each case to the decision of the respective employer.

Under the new law, an employer is not entitled to ask for any evidence of the antenatal appointments.  However, they are entitled to ask the employee for a declaration stating the date and time of the appointment and the details of their situation to ensure the employee meets the criteria.

The new rules set the stage for the Shared Parental Leave system, which comes into effect next year, for babies due on or after April 5th.  Under the scheme, working couples will be able to share untaken maternal leave and pay.

For more information on our Employment Law services, please contact our specialist Employment & HR team.

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