The non-departmental public body receives around 39,000 calls to its helpline each year from employers and employees about parental issues, including time off for antenatal and adoption appointments.
Pregnant employees are entitled to special antenatal time off for appointments but many employers may be unaware that new leave rights were introduced in October 2014 for adopters, surrogates and partners of pregnant women.
Acas Head of Information and Guidance, Stewart Gee said:
“As workplace experts, we want to make sure that employers are clear on what the law says around antenatal and adoption leave requests so that they do not come as a shock and are managed properly.
“Many employers may not be aware that new potential dads, civil partners and surrogate parents also have legal rights over leave so that they don’t miss those crucial early moments of a new child’s life.
“Our new free online guide published today is easy to understand and covers the basics around these leave rights and the legal requirements.”
The new Acas guide includes some top tips that employers and all prospective parents should be aware when considering leave requests:
- Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care. For a first baby, women can expect to have up to 10 antenatal appointments and will need to show documentation confirming appointments to their employer after their first appointment.
- Fathers, partners and civil partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.
- Surrogate parents could also be entitled to attend two unpaid antenatal appointments if they expect to satisfy the conditions for, and intend to apply for a Parental Order for the child.
- Employees who are adopting a new child are entitled to take paid time off too. The main adopter is allowed to take paid time off for up to 5 appointments and their partner is entitled to take unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.
- Time off for each appointment is capped at six and a half hours.
Acas has also published a separate guide on surrogacy today to explain how potential parents could qualify for certain leave rights and pay.
Stewart added, “A surrogate is a woman who carries and gives birth to a baby for intended parents. The women who give birth to the child are the mother but parental responsibility can be transferred by either an adoption or parental order.
“Surrogacy is seen by many as a complicated area to understand so we have produced a new guide that explains the different types of surrogacy arrangements and the various types of leave that are available depending on individual circumstances.”