Reminder as fathers’ rights are extended

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An employment law expert is reminding firms to ensure their policies and procedures are up to date now staff have the right to take unpaid leave to accompany an expectant woman to antenatal classes.

Under rules which came into force recently, in order to qualify, employees must be able to prove they have a qualifying relationship with the mother – such as a spouse or civil partner, the baby’s father or intended surrogate parent.

Chris Boyle, head of employment at Lancashire law firm Napthens in Preston, warns that many employers already allow staff to attend such appointments, but those that do not will now have to recognise their employees’ right to do so. He said: “The amount of time qualifying workers may take off during working hours to accompany a pregnant woman on such a visit is limited to two occasions, each lasting no more than 6.5 hours each. It is important to note that this right applies immediately upon employees being hired at a business, there is no qualifying period of employment as with some rights.

“It is important for managers to be aware of this right and ensure that their working practices are updated to reflect it.”