New rights for time off for ante natal appointments

You may have seen in the news that on 1 October 2014, expectant fathers or the partner (including same sex) of a pregnant woman are now entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to up to 2 of her ante-natal appointments.

The right applies to those who have conceived naturally, through donor insemination and also extends to those who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement. This is the first time we have seen surrogates parents included.  Surrogates will also be entitled to the new Shared Parental leave which will be law from December 1st 2014.

Employees who accompany the expectant mother to her ante-natal appointments are entitled to unpaid leave for 1 or 2 appointments. The time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.

As an employer you are not entitled to ask for any evidence of the ante-natal appointments, but you are entitled to ask the employee for a declaration telling you the date and time of the appointment.

You can also ask the employee to declare the following:

• the qualifying relationship with the pregnant woman or her expected child;
• that the employee’s purpose in taking time off is to accompany a pregnant woman to an ante-natal appointment
• that the appointment in question is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered nurse

To qualify for the unpaid time off they must be:
• the baby’s father;
• the expectant mother’s spouse, her civil partner, or partner (of either sex)
• intended parents of a child in a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to be entitled to and intend to apply for a parental order in respect of that child.

There is no qualifying period for employees. This means that as soon as they start working for you they accrue this right.

The entitlement is to unpaid leave to attend to up to 2 appointments with the maximum time capped at 6 hours and 30 minutes per appointment.

If you refuse the employee this right they can complain to the Employment Tribunal within a three month period. If an employee is dismissed as a result of exercising or seeking to exercise these rights, the dismissal is automatically unfair.

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What ACAS Early Conciliation Means To Nursery Owners

The Government has now published Regulations and Rules setting out the new Early Conciliation Rules of Procedure. The Rules set out the process to be used by potential claimants before bringing a Tribunal claim. The Regulations and Rules came into force on 6 April 2014. The Early Conciliation process is mandatory for claims presented to a Tribunal on or after 6 May 2014.

What is Early Conciliation?
• Help from ACAS to settle the dispute without going to court
• From 6th May it is a legal requirement to make an Early Conciliation notification
• Tribunal claims will not be accepted unless the employee has been referred to ACAS and has a conciliation certificate
• It’s a free, impartial, independent and confidential service

What does it mean to you as an employer?
• The first you may know about any potential issue is when you get contacted by ACAS
• The conciliator will talk through the issues with you and the employee/ex-employee
• The purpose is to explore how the potential claim might be resolved
• They will discuss issues and possible resolutions
• Help both sides to understand how the other side views the issues
• Conciliation may last up to one month – it can be extend once for 14 days
• If the issue is not resolved the case will be closed and the employee can then make a tribunal claim

How this affects the usual three-month time limit to bring claims is not straight forward
• The time limit for bringing a Tribunal claim will be put on hold while Early Conciliation is in process – effectively “stopping the clock”
• If Early Conciliation starts within a month of the expiry of the time limit, a further month is added after the end of Early Conciliation for the employee to bring a claim.
• This means, for example, that if Early Conciliation is initiated on the day before the time limit expires, an employee could potentially have up to 5 or 5 and a half months within which to bring a claim.
If Early Conciliation is successful and a resolution is reached both parties will sign a formal record of agreement. This is a legally binding document and will mean the employee can no longer bring a claim regarding this matter.
If Early Conciliation is not successful then the employee will be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal. If a tribunal claim is made the Conciliator will again offer to help resolve the issue before it goes to a tribunal.
But don’t forget since July 2013 employees now have to pay to bring a tribunal claim. The cost of this varies depending on the type of claim.
As the employer you don’t have to deal with ACAS if you don’t want to, you have a choice.

As an employer if you have any employee issues then give us a call. 01980 878698

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Fit notes…Are they fit for purpose?

On the 4th October Personnel Today magazine announced that in a potentially groundbreaking study, researchers from Nottingham University will investigate the best way to use fit notes to facilitate a timely return to work for those with health conditions.

Not before time I say.  I have found that fit notes submitted by GPs are in the main useless and do not help employers get their employees back to work.  Most of the time the GP hasn’t  completed the boxes. Often it might say the employee is fit to return on light duties but give no indication as what those light duties could be.

It is up to the employer to decide with the employee if they can accommodate ‘light duties’. One of the complications I come across is that the GP says they can return to work on light duties, the employer has no ‘light duties’ for the employee so they have to stay off sick. The question is what do they get paid? If the company only pays Statutory sick pay that means that is all the employee can receive. If they had returned on light duties they would receive their salary.  Its not an easy to decision to make if it means the employee is financially worse off.

I would love to hear what you think off fit notes? Drop me an email

Here is the full report from Personnel Today.

The investigation has been commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which said that it will be the first to consider the views of patients, employers and GPs when looking into the way in which fit notes are used.

Carol Coole, senior research fellow on the project, said: “There is an indirect link between our research and long-term benefit recipients. Most work is good for our health and often people with health conditions can stay at work – or return to work – through quite simple measures.”

Avril Drummond, professor of healthcare research at the university, who will lead the study, added: “We want to know how fit notes are being used, how useful they are in helping people return to and stay at work, and how they could be used more effectively.”

Data collection and evaluation for the programme has already started and a panel-based “Delphi” study will be carried out between April and July next year.

A final report on the findings is expected to be submitted at the end of September, the university added.

Jane White, research and information services manager at IOSH, said: “The first four to six weeks of a person being absent from work is a critical window, and without proactive intervention this could lead to long-term sickness absence.

“Therefore, the doctor’s fit note is a vital link between a person, their employer, and them going to work with the right support when they are able. So we need to ensure that it works as effectively as it should, and this research plays an important role in doing that.”

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I could not have done this without you…

Women Inspiring Women Awards





I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that voted for me in the ‘Women Inspiring Women’ Awards.

I am delighted to tell you all that I won the ‘Woman in Business’ Award and was finalist in the ‘Inspirational Woman’ Award.

Jacqui Mann Womens Awards

Thanks again. Without your votes this would not have been possible, you have all made me a very happy lady.

Well done to all, click here to see all the winners & finalists!

Jacqui Mann




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Women Inspiring Women Awards

Women Inspiring Women Awards


Jacqui MannOur MD Jacqui Mann has been shortlisted for two awards in the Women Inspiring Women Awards and we’d be absolutely thrilled if you’d please vote for her before midday on 16th May. Please follow the steps below…

Visit Jacqui’s nomination page on the Women Inspiring Women Awards website and follow the link ‘Click here to register to vote’.

Enter your name and email address on the voting registration page. As soon as you’ve done this you’ll be sent an email with details of how to vote. If you don’t receive this email right away, please check in your spam folder.

Click on the link in the email to be taken to the voting page. It’s vital that you do this as it confirms that you’re a real person (otherwise your vote won’t count). This link is unique to you and must not be shared.

Cast your vote on the voting page. Jacqui has been nominated for Woman in Business and Inspirational Woman. You can vote for as many people in as many categories as you wish, although obviously we’d love it if you’d please vote for Jacqui!

Go to page 6 (the final screen) of the voting and enter the same Name and Email Address that you used when registering to vote. This is designed so that the voting is secure and fair. Then click on the Finish Survey button and you’re done!

The deadline for voting is Midday on Thursday 16th May. The winners are to be announced at the Awards Ceremony & Dinner on Friday 17th May. Thank you so much for your support.

The hr4nurseries team




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