As we hope you are already aware, new family friendly legislation has been introduced which applies to those who are expecting a baby or adopting on or after 5 April 2014.
Part of the package of family friendly rights is a new right for partners to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments such as scans. This right applies from 1 October 2014 to employees and certain agency workers provided that they have at least 12 weeks’ service with the hirer. (The right for pregnant employees and agency workers to take paid leave for ante-natal appointments is unchanged).
The right is for up to 6.5 hours’ unpaid leave per appointment for one or two appointments, and there is no qualifying period of employment required. It applies to the pregnant woman’s husband, civil partner or partner (including a same-sex partner), the father or parent of a pregnant woman’s child, and intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions. Notably, this is the first time that surrogacy arrangements have been recognised in UK family friendly employment law (this has been a difficult area – see our previous article here).
There will also be a new equivalent right to unpaid time off work for adopters to attend meetings in advance of a child being placed with them for adoption. The primary adopter will be entitled to to paid leave for up to five appointments, with the secondary adopter getting the one or two appointments (as per the partner in a maternity situation). These rights will come into force on 5 April 2015.
The Department for Business Innovation & Skills has published a useful guide to the new rights which is available here.
All of these statutory rights mean that those who seek to exercise them are protected against detriment or dismissal regardless of length of service. It is therefore a good idea to ensure that managers are aware of these new rights to prevent inadvertent issues arising. Any family friendly policies and procedures should also be amended to reflect the new rights – we are always happy to help with ensuring that your documentation is kept up to date.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).