Whilst it is becoming more common for dads to attend the birth of their children, there is no such direct right. So what rights are available to expectant fathers?
(For the sake of convenience we refer to a biological father of a child in this blog. However broadly similar rules apply in the case of those who are adopting, in surrogacy arrangements or whose partners are expecting a baby).
A father could request to take annual leave around the time the baby is due. An employer is entitled to consider that request in the usual way. It could, for example, be refused for business reasons. The added practical difficulty is that it is almost impossible to predict precisely when the baby will be born unless the birth is, for example, going to be medically scheduled.
Paternity leave allows a father to take time off to care for the child. However, paternity leave (like parental leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave) does not really assist an expectant father as it requires him to give advance notice to his employer and the right only arises once the baby is born, not before. Acas recommends that an employer be flexible during this period in arranging cover.
In addition to being flexible, an employer should always consider requests on a case by case basis. It is not inconceivable, for example, that if the baby is born in an emergency situation, a father may qualify for time off to attend such an emergency.
Generally, employers should consider matters carefully so as not to undermine the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee.
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Times have changed and it is now rare that a man does not attend the birth of his baby