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Antenatal care responsibilities for employers

03rd November 2010
By nickcampbell in Employment Law
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If you run a small business or have a start up company the first time you are notified that an employee is pregnant can open up a minefield of employment law issues. Pregnancy and maternity leave have stringent guidelines set out by employment law in the UK and it is wise to seek advice from professional employer services when a notification is made to human resources.

As part of the employee manual your HR department or representative should have included guidelines on pregnancy and maternity leave so that you are prepared for the eventuality and your employees know how to notify you correctly.

One area that employers are often unaware of is that pregnant employees are entitled to request paid time off work in order to attend antenatal care. As the employer you have the right to request proof that your employee is pregnant and to see any appointment cards excluding the first appointment. Antenatal care is not clearly defined but it should be assumed that parent craft and relaxation classes will fall under the umbrella of antenatal care.

In order to avoid employment tribunal claims you should not request that the employee make up the time at work. You can encourage people who work part-time to attend antenatal care outside of their working hours but you should appreciate that employees do not always have control over when their appointments are issued.

If you were to refuse a request then the case would be reviewed based on the employee’s health, the length of time requested off and whether appointments could be attended outside of working hours. Time off from work will also include travelling time and waiting for the appointment. Any unreasonable refusals could be met by employment tribunal relating to sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and pay claims.

At Northgate Arinso we offer a comprehensive employment law service and tribunal representation to our clients.

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