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  • Liz Foreman

Your Working Rights During Pregnancy

Can I take time off to attend prenatal classes ? Yes ! Your employer cannot ‘unreasonably refuse’ you paid time off to attend antenatal care classes during working hours when you are pregnant. This includes time travelling to and from the appointments. Parent craft and relaxation classes can be included in the term ‘antenatal care’, but you may find it helpful to show your employer proof from your GP or midwife that states that these classes are part of your care. You should request the time off rather than assume you can take it. Your employer has the right to ask that you produce proof from your GP, health visitor or midwife that you have an antenatal care appointment. If they ask you for this proof and you are unable to provide it, then they have the right to refuse you the time off. You are not under any obligation to make up the ‘lost’ hours to your employer at a later date. If your employer refuses you time off, or will not pay you for the time off, and you feel that this is unreasonable, you can make a complaint to an employment tribunal. You may also be able to claim that your employer’s actions amount to sex discrimination and/or pregnancy and maternity discrimination, but you should seek advice. Likewise, if you are dismissed, disciplined or otherwise treated unfavourably for taking or trying to take time off for antenatal care, you should have a claim for compensation. In any of these situations you should seek advice from your trade union or a specialist legal adviser. This right only applies to those who are classed as employees rather than workers. The right to paid time off for employees begins on the day the job starts and there is no minimum qualifying service.

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