Time off for antenatal appointments

10 July 2015

Evidence from the Acas Helpline shows that many employers may be unaware that new leave rights for antenatal and adoption were introduced in October 2014 for adopters, surrogates and partners of pregnant women.

Acas has refreshed guidance which attempts to respond to this need, and sets out top tips for employers and all prospective parents.

Antenatal care is the care given to women during pregnancy. The number of antenatal appointments will be between seven and ten. Under certain circumstances, and for certain medical reason, some women may require more.

Key points:

  • Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care.
  • Fathers and partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.
  • Time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.
  • Adopters are allowed time off for adoption appointments.
  • Surrogacy parents will be allowed unpaid time off for two antenatal visits.

Pregnant employees

Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off with pay for antenatal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner. This may include relaxation classes and parent-craft classes. Except for the first appointment, employees should show the employer (if requested), an appointment card or other documents showing that an appointment has been made. For a first baby women can expect to have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If an employee has previously had a baby then they may have about 7 antenatal appointments.

Fathers and partners

Fathers, partners and civil partners of a pregnant woman are entitled to unpaid time off during working hours to accompany her to 2 ante-natal appointments.

There is no legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments. However, employers may allow this time off with pay under the terms and conditions of employment, or allow employees to take annual leave, swap shifts or make up time.

Adopters and surrogacy parents

The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to 5 adoption appointments. The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.

The right to 2 unpaid antenatal appointments will also extend to those who will become parents though a surrogacy arrangement, if they expect to satisfy the conditions for, and intend to apply for a Parental Order for the child.