New rights in the workplace

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New rights for fathers, partners and parents come in to force on 1 October 2014.

The Children and Families Act 2014 includes a new right for fathers, partners and parents to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two ante-natal appointments. The right will be available to an employee or agency worker who has a “qualifying relationship” with a pregnant woman or her expected child.  This includes the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner, her partner (including same sex partner) who is in an enduring family relationship with her, the father of the expected child, one of a same sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent under assisted reproduction legislation and the potential applicant for a parental order in relation to a child born to a surrogate mother.

Employees do not need to satisfy any qualifying period to exercise this new right - it applies from the first day of employment. The position is slightly different for agency workers; they must have completed their 12 week qualifying period.  

Joanne Davies, an employment lawyer and partner with law firm Blake Morgan explains: “The Children and Families Act 2014 received Royal Assent in March 2014. One of its key provisions, in force from 30 June 2014, was the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees who meet the eligibility criteria and this change attracted a great deal of media interest. By contrast,   the new right to attend ante–natal appointments has not been particularly well publicised to date. However, employers need to be aware of the changes as Staff Handbooks will need to be amended over the coming weeks  and the changes publicised to staff, particularly to line managers who may be dealing with the requests for time off. The alternative is to face the risk of Employment Tribunal claims.”