Employers obligations during pregnancy | Antenatal care, breaks and travel

Yes, you must allow a pregnant employee, regardless of hours worked or length of service, reasonable paid time off for antenatal care, which has been recommended by a doctor or midwife. Requests for time off can only be refused if it is reasonable to refuse. She must not be disadvantaged for asking for time off or taking it.

What is reasonable depends on the circumstances, for example, how long the appointment is, how often your employee wants take time off, the amount of notice you are given and how easy it is to arrange a suitable appointment outside working hours. For example, it may be reasonable for you to refuse the time off if your employee does not give much notice, the appointment is not urgent and if you cannot get cover. 

Yes, if they have worked for 12 weeks in the same job, they are entitled to paid time off to go to antenatal appointments or classes if they cannot reasonably arrange them outside working hours. See https://www.gov.uk/agency-workers-your-rights/maternity-rights-for-agency-workers

Yes, after your employee has been to her first antenatal appointment you can ask for proof of appointments. The employee or agency worker is not entitled to time off until she provides you with proof of the appointment once you have asked for it. The employee must provide a certificate confirming that she is pregnant, such as a MAT B1 (which confirms her pregnancy and gives the expected week of childbirth) and an appointment card or similar. 

Government guidance says that antenatal care includes not only medical examinations but also, for example, antenatal classes, relaxation or parentcraft classes, as recommended by a registered doctor, midwife or health visitor.

A part-time employee should generally be allowed to attend antenatal appointments during her normal working hours, unless it is reasonable to refuse. This is something you should discuss with your employee so that you can plan ahead.  

Partners now have a right to attend two ante-natal appointments (up to six and a half hours for each appointment). There is no obligation to pay for this time off. The partner must provide written confirmation (a declaration) of the appointment date and time and entitlement if requested to do so, but does not have to provide a copy of the appointment card or letter. 

See https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/361292/bis-14-1063-time-off-to-accompany-a-pregnant-woman-to-ante-natal-appointments-employer-guide.pdf

Last updated: 12 May 2016