Pregnant employees are entitled to time off with full pay for 'antenatal' (pregnancy-related) appointments.
Antenatal appointments include:
- medical appointments related to a pregnancy
- classes for pregnancy-related health, fitness or relaxation
- sessions that support the person's mental health and wellbeing
Paid time off for antenatal appointments includes travel time.
The employee should give you as much notice as possible for time off work.
How much time is needed
The law does not say how much time can be taken off, only that it must be a 'reasonable' amount.
Usually, a pregnant employee needs:
- up to 10 antenatal appointments if it's their first baby
- around 7 antenatal appointments if they've had a baby before
As every pregnancy is different, it's a good idea to be flexible and understanding if an employee needs more appointments.
After the first appointment, they must provide an appointment card or other evidence of their appointments if you ask for it.
If they're adopting
- the main adopter is entitled to paid time off for up to 5 adoption appointments
- the secondary adopter is entitled to take unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments
Some employment contracts may allow for more, or paid, time off for these appointments.
If they're using surrogacy
Unless the contract says otherwise, an employee can take unpaid time off for 2 antenatal appointments if they're using surrogacy and will become the child's legal parent once it's born.
If they're having IVF treatment
There's no legal right for time off work for IVF treatment or related sickness. But you should treat an employee's IVF appointments and any sickness the same as any other medical appointment or sickness. Check the employment contract if you're not sure.
It's a good idea to be open to any requests your employee has for:
- flexible working
- paid time off, unpaid time off or holiday
The law on discrimination
It's against the law to treat an employee unfairly because of their antenatal appointments.