Expectant fathers and same-sex partners of pregnant women now have the right to take time off for antenatal appointments, the government has announced.
This right also extends to long-term partners of the mother even if they are not married, or the intended parents of the child in a surrogacy agreement. They have the right to two appointments and can take up to six and a half hours for each. Employers are able to offer more time if they choose.
If the woman’s husband is not the father, both the husband and the father will each be allowed to take time off for two appointments. Additionally, if a man is expecting children with more than one woman, he will be allowed to take time off for each child. However, the government says that they “do not expect this to happen very often”.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills introduced this policy as part of the government’s attempts to encourage fathers and partners to become more involved in the early lives of children.
Jo Swinson, the Employment Relations Minister, said the move would “kick start a culture change in workplaces” to make fathers “feel more confident talking to their employers about taking time off for childcare”.
She added that the next step for the government is the introduction of shared parental leave. This would give mothers and adopters “real choice about when they return to work” and allow fathers “more time to bond with their children”, she claimed.
Shared parental leave will come into effect for children born, or adoptions made, from April 5th 2015 onwards.