Antenatal Leave

Site updated on February 17, 2020


Soon after informing the company that you are pregnant, you are likely to consider taking antenatal leave, to attend classes and get guidance on your pregnancy. This right applies to all women irrespective of your length of service or the hours worked. Therefore even if you have just started work you are still entitled to this leave. You should be paid your normal pay when you take this time off.

Time off includes reasonable travel time too.

Paid time off is available for antenatal care where the appointment is attended on the advice of a registered doctor, midwife or health visitor. Antenatal care can include medical examinations, appointments with the employee’s midwife, antenatal classes, relaxation and parent craft classes.

Your employer is entitled to reasonable proof that you are pregnant! You can be asked to provide evidence of the appointments, such as an appointment card. An employer can also request evidence of pregnancy from the employee in the form of a certificate from a registered doctor, midwife or health visitor.

You do not have to provide your Employer with evidence for the first appointment.

You cannot be required to make up the time you have taken at some other time. You also cannot be compelled to take annual leave to cover the time off.

An employer must not unreasonably refuse to allow a pregnant employee the time off.

There are no rules which set out specifically how much time off you can have. This is down to whatever is felt to be “reasonable”. If there is a disagreement about what is reasonable, attempts should be made to resolve this within the company. Put your complaint in writing and use the grievance procedure if your company has one. If this cannot be resolved it can be referred to your union rep, if there is one, or finally to a Solicitor or an Employment tribunal.

The definition of “time off” also means that your employer cannot insist that you make the time up at some future date. If you choose to make the time up by, for example, having a shorter lunch break, or working late, then this is fine.

Until October 2014 there was no legal right for a partner to take any leave to go with you. Your partner’s Employer may have a policy or they can request Annual Leave. Since  October 2014,  a partner does have the right to take unpaid time off for two accompanied ante natal visits with their pregnant partner.


From 1 October 2014, an expectant father or the partner (including same sex) of a pregnant woman is entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to up to 2 of her ante-natal appointments. “Partner” includes the spouse or civil partner of the pregnant woman and a person (of either sex) in a long term relationship with her. The right applies whether the child is conceived naturally or through donor insemination. It also extends to those who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to satisfy the conditions for and intend to apply for a Parental Order for the child born through that arrangement.

Employees accompanying the expectant mother to her ante-natal appointments are entitled to unpaid leave for 1 or 2 appointments. The time off must be “reasonable” and is capped at a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment.

The Government is aiming to achieve greater involvement of both of the child’s parents from the earliest stages of pregnancy.

An employer is not entitled to ask for any evidence of the ante-natal appointments, such as an appointment card, as this is the property of the expectant mother attending the appointment.

However, an employer is entitled to ask the employee for a declaration stating the date and time of the appointment, that the employee qualifies for the unpaid time off through his or her relationship with the mother or child, and that the time off is for the purpose of attending an ante-natal appointment with the expectant mother that has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, nurse or midwife.

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