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New guidance on right to accompany mothers to antenatal appointments

A new guide for employers about the right to take time off work to go with a pregnant woman to antenatal appointments has been published by the Government.

The guide comes in time for 1 October 2014, when the partner of a pregnant woman will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to attend antenatal appointments with her.

Partners will be allowed time off for up to two antenatal appointments, capped at 6.5 hours per appointment.

The measure comes as part of the Government's aim 'to achieve greater involvement of both of the child's parents from the earliest stages of pregnancy'.

Eligibility

A 'partner' could be the baby's father, or the mother's spouse, civil partner, or partner in an enduring relationship. It could also be the parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement.

There's no qualifying period, but agency workers must have been doing the same kind of job for the same hirer for at least 12 weeks.

Employers' obligations

Employers are not entitled to ask for evidence of antenatal appointments and the like, but they can ask for a declaration from employees confirming their relationship with the mother and details about appointments.

Employers who refuse time off could end up being taken to an employment tribunal, and being ordered to pay twice the hourly rate for each hour the employee would have taken off.

Employees are protected in law from detrimental treatment for exercising this right, and if an employee is dismissed because of it, the dismissal is automatically unfair.

Acas publications and services

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you develop effective policies for Parents and carers: how Acas can help in your workplace.

One of the biggest changes in employment legislation is the introduction of Shared Parental Leave in December this year.

'All you need to know about Shared parental leave' is a training course that tells you what to expect from this change in Maternity, paternity and adoption legislation, including eligibility and notification, responding to requests, and how to develop a policy to manage the process.

Acas has published guidance and information covering the key points about Shared parental leave and pay on its website.

For free, impartial advice on any employment relations issue visit Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.


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