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Fathers’ rights extended

An employment law expert is reminding businesses to ensure policies and procedures are up to date now that staff have the right to take unpaid leave to accompany an expectant woman to antenatal class.

Under rules which came into force recently, in order to qualify, employees must be able to prove they have a qualifying relationship with the mother – such as a spouse or civil partner, the baby’s father or intended surrogate parent.

Kimberley Barrett-St.Vall, solicitor in the Employment team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, warns that many employers already allow staff to attend such appointments, but those that do not will now have to recognise their employees’ right to do so.

She explained: “The amount of time qualifying workers may take off during working hours to accompany a pregnant woman on such a visit is limited to two occasions, each lasting no more than 6.5 hours each.

“It is important to note that this right applies immediately upon employees being hired at a business, there is no qualifying period of employment as with some rights.

“It is important for managers to be aware of this right and ensure that their working practices are updated to reflect it.”