Time off for ante-natal care – your rights as an employee or Agency Worker
Employees have the right to reasonable paid time off work for ante-natal appointments, which includes the time spent travelling to an appointment and waiting. You cannot be refused time off for the first appointment, but for subsequent appointments your employer can ask for written proof of the appointment and a certificate or note from your doctor or midwife, stating that you are pregnant.
If you do not, when asked, provide these, your employer can refuse the time off. This is the only circumstance in which employers can refuse time off. They cannot ask you to make appointments in your own time, or make the time up later.
An ante-natal appointment is any appointment you make on the advice of your doctor, midwife or health visitor. This includes parentcraft and relaxation.
All partners/husbands/expectant fathers who are employees also have the legal right to unpaid time off work for up to two antenatal appointments. For more information on the rights of partners to take time off click here.
It is unlawful for an employer to refuse the time off, to refuse pay for the time off, to dismiss a woman or to treat her less favourably because she has taken time off. Not only is this likely to be pregnancy discrimination, but the employer can be required to pay compensation at twice the hourly rate for the period when the employee/agency worker would have been entitled to paid time off.
If you are an agency worker (and NOT an employee), from the outset of your pregnancy you are entitled to take time off (unpaid) to attend antenatal appointments.
In addition, after 12 weeks in the same assignment, you are entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments if you are pregnant. This should be paid by the agency at your usual hourly rate and you should not be asked to make up the time at a later date. This includes the time it takes you to travel to and from your appointment. The agency or the hirer can ask for written proof of the appointment and a certificate or note from your doctor or midwife, stating that you are pregnant and can refuse the time off if you do not provide these.
This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details