Time off for antenatal care: mothers, fathers and partners
Does a pregnant employee have the right to take time off to attend antenatal care? Do I have to agree?
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 to 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.
Do agency workers have rights to paid time off to attend antenatal care appointments?
Yes, if they have worked for 12 continuous weeks in the same job with the same hirer, they are legally entitled to paid time off to go to antenatal appointments or classes if they cannot reasonably arrange them outside working hours. Further information is available on the NI Direct's website
Can I ask for proof of antenatal appointments?
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.
What is antenatal care?
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.
Can I ask a part-time employee to attend antenatal care outside her working hours?
You must not unreasonably refuse to allow an employee to attend antenatal appointments during normal working hours. It is good practice to allow a part-time employee to attend antenatal appointments during her normal working hours. This is something you can discuss with your employee so that you can plan ahead.
A pregnant woman’s partner has asked to take time off to attend their partner’s antenatal appointment. Must I agree?
Partners (male or female) have a legal right to attend two antenatal appointments (up to six and a half hours for each appointment). You are not legally required 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.