For a long time pregnant employees have had a legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments, made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor – you can see full details in our Guide to Ante-natal appointments. Since 1st October 2011 certain ‘agency workers’ were also entitled to paid time off for these appointments – see our Guide to the Agency Workers Regulations.
Now, 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 (it is a Day 1 right). There is no legal right to paid time-off and this will be capped at a maximum of 6.5 hours on each occasion. This applies to all employees and agency workers who have the necessary 12 weeks service. ‘Fathers’ must provide reasonable notice of these appointments but there is no need (legally) to provide evidence of the appointment. Employers can request a written declaration from the ‘father’ stating his/her relationship to the mother and that the purpose of the time off is to attend the antenatal appointment with her.
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.
The Government have issues guidance on these appointments for employers (which we must admit we haven’t yet read) but apparently it answers the tricky questions of:
- What if the ‘father’ is expecting a baby with two different women at the same time? Apparently he has the right to accompany each women to two appointments. And
- What if the ‘husband’ and ‘father’ are two different people! Apparently both have the right to attend antenatal appointments.
(The government will introduce a new similar right for adopters from April 2015).
Changes to the National Minimum Wage on 1st October 2014
Anyone who is defined as a Worker (including employees and agency workers) is entitled to the minimum wage (NMW) – you do not need a written contract to be eligible. You can read our full guide to the NMW here.
There are different minimum wage rates for different age groups of workers as follows:
- The main rate for workers aged 21 and over from 1 October 2013 £6.31 per hour. This rises to £6.50 per hour from 1st October 2014.
- The development rate for 18-20 year olds’ is £5.03 per hour from 1 October 2013. This rises to £5.13 from 1st October 2014.
- The development rate for 16-17 years olds from 1 October 2013 is £3.72 per hour. This rises to £3.79 per hour from 1st October 2014.
- Apprentices under 19, or aged 19 or over but in their first 12 months of apprenticeship must be paid a minimum of £2.68 per hour from 1st October 2013. This rises to £2.73 per hour from 1st October 2014. See our Guide to Apprenticeships here. Apprentices aged 19 or over who have spent a year in their apprenticeship must be paid at least the NMW rate applicable to their age.
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem, then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.
Photo by Kary and Casey Jordan