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New right for fathers and partners to attend antenatal appointments


Fathers and partners now have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany expectant mothers to up to 2 antenatal appointments, Liberal Democrat Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson announced today (2 October 2014).

This is a major step in the government’s measures to encourage involvement of fathers with their children from the earliest possible stages. This new right is part of a wider programme of changes that the government is making to enable dads and partners (including same sex) to be more involved in childcare through shared parental leave.

Research shows that a third of fathers still do not take any time off before the birth of their child. The right to time off to accompany the expectant mother to her antenatal appointments will allow the other parent this opportunity where their employer might not otherwise give permission.

Jo Swinson visited an antenatal clinic at the Royal United Hospital Trust in Bath this week where she met couples attending appointments, saw a scan taking place and toured the delivery suite and neo natal unit with staff.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said:

Parenting is a shared endeavour and we want to encourage full involvement from fathers from the start. The right to time off work to attend antenatal appointments will help dads and partners play an important role in the early stages of pregnancy and will kick start a culture change in workplaces and help men feel more confident talking to their employers about taking time off for childcare. Dads have a key role to play in the first weeks and months of a baby’s life and it is right that the arrangements for parental leave should reflect that.

The next step is introducing shared parental leave in April 2015, giving mums and adopters real choice about when they return to work and dads more time to bond with their children. Employers will benefit from lower staff turnover and having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated.

Shared parental leave and pay comes into effect for babies due on or after 5 April 2015, or adoptions where the child is placed on or after 5 April 2015. Under the scheme, working couples will be able to share untaken maternity leave and pay, following the first 2 weeks recovery period that mothers have to take off after birth, so up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared. Similar arrangements will be in place for adopters.

This will enable both mothers and fathers to keep a strong link to the workplace, encourage fathers to play a greater role in the early stages of their child’s life and allow employers and employees greater flexibility in reaching agreement on how to best balance work and home needs.