Can I take time off for antenatal care if I’m pregnant at work?
Your employer is required to ensure your health and safety if you are pregnant and working. Your right to paid time off for prenatal treatment may exist. Additionally, you are shielded from unfair treatment by an employer.
Maternity leave of pregnant employees
If you are working while pregnant, you are eligible to:
- time off work pay for antenatal care
- protection from unjust treatment or dismissal of maternal leave maternity pay
- Employers have duties to safeguard the health and safety of pregnant workers.
- Rights related to pregnancy and maternity in the workplace
Telling your employer that you’re pregnant
At least 15 weeks before to the start of the week your baby is due, you must inform your employer that you are pregnant. If you can’t do this because you were unaware that you were pregnant, you must inform your employer right away. Additionally, you want to let them know when you intend to begin your statutory maternity leave and pay.
Giving your employer advance notice will enable them to make arrangements for your maternity leave and fulfil their legal duties to you. If there are any health and safety concerns, this is crucial. Prior to informing your employer that you are expecting, you are not eligible to use paid time off for antenatal checkups.
Time off for antenatal care
Everyone who is pregnant at work is entitled to a fair amount of time off for prenatal care. Any time off must be compensated at your regular hourly rate. It is illegal for your employer to refuse to pay you at your regular rate of pay or to grant you a fair amount of time off for antenatal care.
After the second consultation, your employer may request documentation of your antenatal visits. Show your employer, upon request, a medical certificate attesting to your pregnancy as well as an appointment card or other written confirmation of your appointment.
If your doctor recommends it, antenatal care may also involve stress relief techniques or parent-crafting training in addition to medical exams. Avoid taking time off from work if you can when you can fairly schedule for classes or exams.
Fathers-to-be and time off for antenatal appointments
The father-to-be and the partner of a pregnant lady may take unpaid time off from their jobs to accompany the expectant mother to two antenatal checkups. For each appointment, a maximum of six and a half hours may be taken off work. There is no waiting period required to exercise this right.
The pregnant woman’s spouse or civil partner is considered a “partner,” as is anyone who has been in a committed relationship with her for a significant amount of time. Whether the child is born naturally or via donor insemination, the right is still in effect. If they anticipate meeting the requirements for and intend to submit an application for a Parental Order for the child conceived through that arrangement, it also applies to people who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement.
Conceiving a child via IVF (in vitro fertilization)
Employers who treat a woman less favourably because she is getting IVF or wants to get pregnant are breaking the law on sexism. Once the fertilised embryo has been implanted, only then will you be eligible for paid time off for prenatal care.
Employee health and safety during pregnancy
Some job risks can have an impact on pregnancy very early on, even before conception. Employers shouldn’t only wait till you notify them you’re pregnant; they should also consider the health of women who are of childbearing age.
Your employer is required to investigate whether any task is likely to pose a specific risk to women of childbearing age as part of their routine risk assessment. In order for them to determine whether any additional steps are required, you should inform your employer as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
When you inform your employer that you are pregnant, they should examine their risk assessment for your particular line of work and identify any adjustments that are required to safeguard your health and the health of your unborn child. Your company ought to include you in the procedure and keep reviewing the evaluation as your pregnancy develops to see whether any modifications are required.
If you think you’re at risk
Talk to your health and safety representative or a trade union official first if you believe you are at risk but your employer disagrees. You can also address your concerns with your employer directly.
You should speak with your doctor or contact the Health and Safety Executive (NI), which has a helpline if your employer continues to refuse to take action.
Sickness associated with pregnancy
No matter what you had negotiated with your employer, maternity leave and Statutory Maternity Pay (from your employer) or Maternity Allowance (from the Jobs & Benefits Office) will commence automatically if you are off work for a pregnancy-related sickness within the four weeks prior to the due date.
Mandatory leave for new mothers
You are required to take two weeks off following the birth of your child, or four weeks if you work in a factory, even if you have chosen not to take statutory maternity leave. It is referred to as “compulsory maternity leave.”
Discrimination and Pregnancy
It’s unlawful sex discrimination for employers to treat women less favorably because of their pregnancy or because they take maternity leave. For example, this includes:
- trying to cut your hours without your permission
- suddenly giving you poor staff reports
- giving you unsuitable work
- making you redundant because of your pregnancy (you might still be made redundant for other reasons)
- treating days off sick due to pregnancy as a disciplinary issue
Your employer can’t change your terms and conditions of employment while you are pregnant without your agreement. If they do, they will be in breach of contract.