Pregnant employees have legal rights, and this includes paid time off for certain activities. The mother is allowed to take time off work for antenatal appointments or antenatal and parenting classes.
Why are antenatal appointments important?
Antenatal appointments are a very important part of your pregnancy. They give you time with a midwife in which you can ask questions about anything that has been worrying you. And crucially, they allow midwives to check that everything is as it should be with you and your growing baby. The tests that you have in each appointment, the urine test and blood pressure for example, can pick up pregnancy conditions, such as pre-eclampsia, that might not show up in any other way. Scans are carried out for the same reason.
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 them. You should also be paid at your normal rate 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 of your appointment times so that cover can be arranged if necessary.
The baby’s father or your partner also has the right to get time off to go to the appointments with you, but they don’t, by law, have to be paid.
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1. Gov.uk [accessed 10 February 2015] ‘Pregnant employees’ rights’ https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights
2. Health and Safety Executive [accessed 10 February 2015] ‘New and Expectant Mothers: The law’, London, HSE: http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/law.htm .Hide details