Your rights around antenatal visits: ask the expert

I am 5 weeks’ pregnant. I have had pains and my GP has referred me for an early scan to make sure everything is ok. My manager says she needs to know if I can continue my job as a dog groomer and says any medical appointment I have needs to be put into writing. She is also annoyed if I take time off sick. What are my rights?

All pregnant employees, irrespective of the length of time they have worked for an employer, are entitled to reasonable time off work for antenatal care. Any time off must be paid at the normal rate of pay. It is unlawful for your employer to refuse to give you reasonable time off for ante-natal care or to refuse to pay you at your normal rate of pay.
Your employer is entitled to ask for evidence of antenatal appointments from the second appointment onwards. If asked you should show your employer a medical certificate showing you’re pregnant and an appointment card or some other written evidence of your appointment. So a written letter each time is not necessary, but an appointment card would be sufficient to show your boss.
To try and support your employer, do try to avoid taking time off work if you can reasonably arrange classes or examinations outside working hours.
In terms of your employer wanting to know now if you can continue with your position as dog groomer you are legally required to tell your employer by the 15th week before the baby is due that you are pregnant, confirm the due date of baby and when you want your maternity leave to start and finish. So you do not have to agree anything with your employer now as you are only 5 weeks’ pregnant.
Clearly, the more notice employers have, the easier it is for them to plan ahead, particularly for small companies with few staff. However, you should not feel pressurised yet in to confirming dates, particularly until you have had your referral meeting and scan.
With regards to having time off work due to illness while pregnant, a pregnant woman should be treated in exactly the same way as any other employee who is absent. If the reason for the continuing absence is sickness, then provided the employee has presented a sick note she should be paid sick pay and be permitted to take sick leave, as any other employee. If there is no adequate reason for her absence, then the use of disciplinary procedures may be appropriate. However, an employer must ensure that he/she does not treat a pregnant person less favourably than any other employee who is absent otherwise the employer may face a sex discrimination claim.
Good luck. I hope that this helps.
Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

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