If you are a pregnant employee of any company in the UK, you have the right to paid time off for antenatal care. This isn’t just antenatal appointments. It also includes any antenatal or parenting classes, if they have been recommended by your doctor or midwife.
Why are antenatal appointments important?
Antenatal appointments are a very important part of your pregnancy. They give the midwives time to check that everything is going well. You’ll be offered routine tests and checks, such as blood tests and ultrasound scans to check your baby’s development. These tests can pick up any pregnancy conditions, such as gestational diabetes, anaemia or pre-eclampsia, that need treatment so you and your baby stay healthy.
There may be reasons why you may need more than the routine number of tests. For example, if you’ve had complications in a previous pregnancy or you need more support in this one. You should be given time off for any appointment that you need and you should normally be paid.
Your antenatal appointments also give you time to ask questions about anything pregnancy related, such as any symptoms you’re unsure about or what to expect in labour and birth.
Is it illegal to tell me I can't go to an appointment?
Yes. Your employer is breaking the law if they don’t give you time off to go to antenatal appointments. You should also be paid at your normal rate for this time off. If you have any concerns you should speak to your manager or use your employer’s grievance procedure, which should be in your contract.
Does my employer have the right to ask for proof of my appointments?
Yes, some employers may ask for proof of appointments. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a letter for your first appointment.
Does my partner have the right to time off for these appointments?
The baby’s father or your partner has the right to time off work to go to 2 antenatal appointments. Their employer does not legally have to pay them for this time off.
What if I work freelance?
If you’re freelance or an agency worker, you may not be paid for the time off.
Giving notice of appointments
Your antenatal appointments are arranged in advance with your midwife, so it’s a good idea to give your employer as much notice as possible. This will help them organise cover if needed and give you peace of mind.
More information and support
Maternity Action provides advice and information about your rights at work, benefits and healthcare.
Citizens Advice also has information about parental rights at work.