For a long time pregnant employees have had a legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments and from 1st October 2014, prospective fathers/partners, including same sex partners, of pregnant women and intended parents in surrogacy arrangements, will have the right to take time-off to accompany their partner to two antenatal appointments.
Employees do not need a minimum length of service to have this right (this is a Day 1 Right). This also applies to agency workers with 12 weeks service. There is no legal right to paid time off and the time off to attend appointments will be for a maximum of 6.5 hours on each occasion.
‘Fathers’ must provide reasonable notice of these appointments but there is no need (legally) to provide evidence of the appointment, although an Employer can ask for a signed declaration of the date/time of the appointment and what relationship the employee/agency worker has with the pregnant woman or expected child.
Employees will have the right to bring claims to an Employment Tribunal if their employer unreasonably refuses to let them take time-off for this purpose (and compensation would be awarded at twice the normal hourly rate for the period when the employee would have been entitled to be absent); in the case of agency workers, the Tribunal will split liability between the agency and the end-hirer depending on the extent to which each was at fault. An employee/agency worker can also seek compensation if they are subjected to a detriment for taking or asking to take time off. A dismissal of an employee for taking, or asking to take, time off will be treated automatically as an unfair dismissal.