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The Rights of Working Parents

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 15 Jan 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Working Parents Parents Working Working

In the United Kingdom, we have one of Europe’s most parent-friendly systems which allows parents to have a quality of life and parental stability not always afforded by other countries.

The Rights of Working Parents

In short, parents in the UK have the working right to some or all of the following :

Flexible Working Hours

All working parents have the right to work flexible hours in order to ensure that their children are looked after correctly. Many working parents in the UK have to work long hours to be able to provide a stable life for the children. With this in mind, the government has introduced legislation that enables fathers and mothers alike to work a set number of hours (agreeable with their employer) in a slightly less formal structure.

This could allow a parent to work part-time hours during the course of a week starting at 9am and finishing at 3pm, for example; alternatively flexible working arrangements may allow for a parent to come into work later on a morning to allow transporting their children to school or a childminder.

Maternity Leave

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) can be paid to a mother for up to 39 weeks after she has had her baby. As a working parent, a mother is entitled to maternity leave and statutory maternity pay if she has been in constant employment with the same company or organisation for 26 weeks prior to the 15 week of her pregnancy. A mother has the right to take 33 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, which adds up to 52 weeks of entitled leave.

Paternity Leave

In the last few years the legislation governing the working rights of fathers has changed to ensure that fathers can have paid leave to spend with their children after they are born. This is referred to as paternity leave and is paid at the same rates as maternity pay although only for one to two weeks. A father can spend one to two weeks at home with his newborn child if he is (a) the child’s biological father or (b) married to the child’s mother.

Paid and Unpaid Leave for Adoptive Parents

Although adoptive leave is a working right of any parent, it may only be paid for if there are already arrangements and agreements in place with your employer. As with maternity and paternity leave, you must be employed by your current employer for 26 weeks prior to becoming the child’s adoptive parent.

As an adoptive parent, you are entitled to up to 52 weeks leave (26 weeks of ordinary adoption leave followed by 26 weeks of additional adoption leave) which is paid at a flat rate known as Statutory Adoptive Pay (SAP). In order to qualify for adoptive leave – paid or unpaid – you must notify your employer well in advance that you are being matched to a child for adoption. This allows them to make the necessary arrangements – not only for cover – but also if their terms and conditions state you are entitled to Statutory Adoptive Pay.

All of the aforementioned rights are afforded to working parents in the UK and if you are an expectant mother or proud father-to-be then you should investigate the terms and conditions of your employment and enquire as to whether or not these working rights are supported by your employer.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to help you find out what you are entitled to, and will also be able to help with understanding the terms and conditions of your contract of employment.

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I am a single parent and I work for a large retail company (Next) under head office in the quality control department and I signed a contract October 2016 for a 2pm till 8pm shift. The company has decided to shuffle everyone shifts and have eradicated some positions but also extended the opening hours of the department. They are only offering rotational shifts of 7am till 1pm one week and 4pm till 10pm the following week. Because of my 9 year old son the early shifts are impossible as childcare is from 8am and my mother currently picks him up from school for me and i collect him when i finish at 8pm to take him home and put him to bed. The new 10pm finish is going to be too late to do this. I am unsure of my rights. One union reps attitude was that it isn't the company's fault I am a single parent. I have been led to believe there is nothing i can do about the new hours they are allocating. The only alternative they have given for same hours is to move to a different warehouse but this would increase my fuel costs three fold and the time it takes to get to work. Currently it is a 7minute drive. The other warehouse is a 40 minute drive. I am on a tight budget already. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.
Sarah - 15-Jan-18 @ 9:37 PM
Leechy - Your Question:
I have a job 3-6.15 and I have no one to pick my daughter up from nursery school. Is there any chance I could pick her up at 2 o clock for a short period so I can take her to a child minder before I start work?

Our Response:
If you don't start work until 3pm, this wouldn't be affect your working hours anyway would it?
LawAndParents - 12-Jan-18 @ 1:00 PM
Tez. have you applied for childcare as part of your tax credits? They will pay up to 70%. you should also get help with rent and council tax with such a low income. Ring your local housing office and also call tax credits to inform them you want to add this to your claim 03453003900. You can also update it all online if you search for manage tax credits online and it's done pretty much immediately (unless they need more info) I hope this helps your situation. We've all been there. Chin up ????
Clarebear84 - 10-Jan-18 @ 9:24 PM
I have a job 3-6.15 and I have no one to pick my daughter up from nursery school. Is there any chance I could pick her up at 2 o clock for a short period so I can take her to a child minder before I start work?
Leechy - 10-Jan-18 @ 4:40 PM
ive been working for a retail company one of the largest in the country fir 2 and a half years. over this time circumstances has altered my situations and my current contracted working hours has been a strain on my financial circumstances for months now. im a single parent of a 6 year old my child has now started school and my childcarecosts have changed. tax credits has overpayed me even tho i have always updated them regarding my childcare changes. im in rent arrears and housing benefit repayment arrears. im not earning enough to pay childcare on 20 hours and the company has not got any full time work that i could apply for.i last year in june requested a change in my flexibility because its not worth it working 20hrs a week , i was not earning enough to cover my rent and council tax. i had no help and every month it took all of my money and i was still left in arrears . ive had to chose what bill to pay and what i had to leave. because of all the financial hardship im facing i decided to bring all of mydebt letters to my employer just to explain all my struggles.still afterapril it will be 3 yrs my manager is still unwilling tohelp.im stressed im depressedi cant walk out of the job i dont kno what to do. i just kno im unable. I'm a single parent.i do 20 hours. i earn 580 p/m my rent p/m is £400counciltax £97 p/m. childcare i cant affordasi also have to pay£18 p/wand just to get into work for myself its £111 p/m for my travel costand £40 p/mfor my child.i receive £142 for wirking and child tax weekly which i get weekly to buy gas and electric pay water rates tv licence clothmy childwhich most times i cant even do. i have to do my shopping getting bits n bobs and even then im struggling i feel like im being forced out of myjob and also feel like my manager has not tried in as many ways to be helpful. i dont kno what to do.all i do is cry
tez - 4-Jan-18 @ 9:45 PM
I need advise as I been working in a retail store for 15 years did the same days and hrs as i got 4 children .my manager has reviewed my flex and said my hrs are not for the business and gave me two options to work 12-4 or 1-5 I've explained i need to pick up my child from school for 3:30 . I've even offered to work 11:45- 2:45 , to be honest am on the shop floor at 10 biggest floor and there are days when am on my own until next member of staff starts 11 or 12 .where do I stand I need advise
mother - 17-Dec-17 @ 9:55 AM
Hi, I quit my Job and moved from England to Wales when I was 9 months pregnant and at the same time my partner lost his job. Because I have got the better CV and education we decided that I will be back to work after birth, since I had no maternity leave rights anymore anymay. I went back to work when my Baby turned 7 weeks old and since then life is really difficult. For me as being the only earner with an £1.050 monthly income and child and working tax have beendeclined as well, as we apparently earned to much in the last tax year. And now (My Baby is 5 months old) my employer constantly forces me to work 12 hours a day. Which means often enough I don't even see my Baby awake for days. When I try to say that I can't do this over time they get really gross and ask for other days days/tomorrow. It's like this all the time and since my baby is teething I hardly sleep as well. Sometimes I nearly lose control over my car because I am just constantly tired and my Job is really exhausting itself anyway. I get really depressed and stressed out about this endless loop situation. I am working full time monday-saturday. If the contract says occasionally over time is required, do I really need to go through this all? Thanks for your help.
Aries88 - 13-Dec-17 @ 10:01 PM
Hi, I work in a factory as a machine setter on 6-2 and2-10, me partner works throw the week as well in retail doin all shifts that she gets rota in for,were struggling for child care for me 1year old boy. I've ask for a transfer to weekends so I can sort better childcare. So I've had a meeting wid me h/r department and since I've worked in a factory for 17years and on a old contract, they say I'm a cost to the business and the only way to change to weekends is if I sign a new 2012 contract which I'll lose a fare bit of money and I'll be working for nothing, plus they said to apply for a job on the board for weekendsto help my situation. Just wondered if there any further advise that I could do to sort this situation.
Bigfella - 4-Dec-17 @ 9:05 PM
My daughters nursery contacted my work saying my child was poorly and needed picking up my employer then contacted the nursery to confirm this after I left site and with no permission is this legal
keithy - 14-Oct-17 @ 10:09 AM
I need some advice please. I was recently forced out of job where the manager claimed that she cannot accommodate me on the days that I was available to work as I have to look after my son and was available to work on days that my husband has off. They owe me on sick pay and holiday pay and I wanted compensation for being victimised at work. We went through the resolution process but eventually the company said they do not want to negotiate. Now I have to find a legal representative to prepare my case to the employment tribunal. Can anyone recommend a good solicitor in London who is keek to defend the rights of a working mother? Thanks
StressedMum - 4-Oct-17 @ 1:13 PM
Cp123 - Your Question:
I've recently asked to change my shifts so they work around school hours 9-3 twice a week and to work a weekend day. As I single mum I don't have a lot of childcare options within my family and friends. I have worked for the company for 9years and they are saying it doesn't met the company's needs. Being a large supermarket I would of thought they would be able to accommodate me, as my child is under 5 are they supposed to help me?

Our Response:
We don't know what kind of job you are undertaking at your work place, so can't really give specific advice. You can appeal an employer's decision to refuse your application to work flexibly but you must do this within 14 days of receiving the refusal. If you feel you application has been refused on flimsy grounds (i.e other employees applications have been accepted etc) and the appeal is unsuccessful, you could consider taking it to a tribunal. The employer has to look at its business position too and if it has a valid reason for refusal, there isn't much you can do.
LawAndParents - 27-Sep-17 @ 12:48 PM
I've recently asked to change my shifts so they work around school hours 9-3 twice a week and to work a weekend day. As I single mum I don't have a lot of childcare options within my family and friends. I have worked for the company for 9years and they are saying it doesn't met the company's needs. Being a large supermarket i would of thought they would be able to accommodate me, as my child is under 5 are they supposed to help me?
Cp123 - 25-Sep-17 @ 7:11 PM
Daniel - Your Question:
As a father do I have any rights as my partner (sons mother) works 2 nights a week starts at 8 pm but I dont finish work till 9pm. Do I have any rights to help my partner. A. get set days off to cover the 2 nights she work or B. get to leave work an hour early

Our Response:
You can make an application for flexible working hours (a change of working hours to suit you/your lifestyle). Your employer has to give the request due consideration and must provide a valid business reason for refusing the request.
LawAndParents - 19-Sep-17 @ 12:34 PM
As a father do i have any rights as my partner (sons mother) works 2 nights a week starts at 8 pm but i dont finish work till 9pm. Do i have any rights to help my partner. A... get set days off to cover the 2 nights she work or B... get to leave work an hour early
Daniel - 17-Sep-17 @ 10:12 PM
Hi, I have my children 6 nights out of 14 and three full weeks per year (in my work holidays) I also pay the maintenance I should as per the gov.uk website. Unfortunately on "my" nights I cannot pick up the three children until half past 7 as my working day is 11:00 until 19:00. My ex is constantly on at me because of this and the fact she has to also feed them but is there anything legally I can do to stop the moaning. She also is threatening to "drop the kids off" at my work or to my house (so my partner would have to have them early). I obviously can't start my night with them (or my partner when they aren't there) until half past 7 when I finish work. Any deflecting arguments gratefully received. Many thanks WLD Obviously
work late dad - 6-Sep-17 @ 6:24 PM
Leanne - Your Question:
I have a 32 hour contract and have 3 young children all under 6 and work different shifts each week sometimes when staff are on holiday I have worked 50 hours most of the time I will work upto 40 hours each week I will work weekends upto 10 pm mornings whatever I am put on I have never phoned in sick in 10 years I have worked for the company for 20 years. The only thing I have a problem with is when someome has gone off sick and my husband is working and they have told me I need you to work tomorrow and I can't because iv planned to take my children out for the day as it's the school holidays my husband is at work but I could get my mum to look after my children. But I just don't think it's fair. They told me they can do this something about 24 hours notice is this right

Our Response:
Unfortunately not, there are no real "set notice periods" relating to variable shift working. The only guidance is "reasonable notice" but there is nothing really published to define reasonable. Check you contract to make sure there is nothing written down about notice of shift changes.
LawAndParents - 22-Aug-17 @ 11:06 AM
Liz - Your Question:
I'm was carer at the care home I'm working then became a senior carer I was able to do night's because the dad was looking after my son but now the the dad is doing night shift I talked to my manage at work and explain to her her I can only do morning shifts now she is forcing me to do night shift I can't do it because my son is 8 years and can't leave him alone in the house what should I do

Our Response:
If your contract states that you must work a night shift then there's not much you can do. You do have the right to request flexible working hours but your employer does not have to agree to this. You should negotiate with the father also, to see whether he is able to change his shifts back.
LawAndParents - 21-Aug-17 @ 2:40 PM
I have a 32 hour contract and have 3 young children all under 6 and work different shifts each week sometimes when staff are on holiday I have worked 50 hours most of the time I will work upto 40 hours each week I will work weekends upto 10 pm mornings whatever I am put on I have never phoned in sick in 10 years I have worked for the company for 20 years . The only thing I have a problem with is when someome has gone off sick and my husband is working and they have told me I need you to work tomorrow and I can't because iv planned to take my children out for the day as it's the school holidays my husband is at work but I could get my mum to look after my children . But I just don't think it's fair . They told me they can do this something about 24 hours notice is this right
Leanne - 19-Aug-17 @ 4:37 PM
I'm was carer at the care home I'm working then became a senior carer i was able to do night's becausethe dad was looking after my sonbut now the the dad is doing night shift I talked to my manage at work and explain to her her I can only do morning shifts now she is forcingme to do night shift I can'tdo it because my son is 8 years and can't leave himalone in the house what should I do
Liz - 18-Aug-17 @ 4:01 PM
gar - Your Question:
I work in a dental practice. I started of 5 days a week until I had my daughter in May 2015. After maternity leave I had a meeting with my manager to agree to a 4 day week Monday to Thursday with a Friday off. Now they are wanting me to change my day off but I am not able to do it because of my childcare and they are now reverting to use my Monday - friday contract. What do I do

Our Response:
Were you issue with a new contract when the changes were made? Was there a clause which stated the part time hours were for a specific period or as a trial? If so, your employer could revert to your original contract after a discussion with you. If not, your employer will need to get your consent before they can implement changes.
LawAndParents - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:44 AM
I work in a dental practice . I started of 5 days a week until I had my daughter in May 2015 . After maternity leave I had a meeting with my manager to agree to a 4 day week Monday to Thursday with a Friday off. Now they are wanting me to change my day off but I am not able to do it because of my childcare and they are now reverting to use my Monday - friday contract . What do I do
gar - 27-Jul-17 @ 4:15 PM
Blue eyes - Your Question:
I am a support worker. I have never had any problems with any shifts until my mum passed away last september. I actually have nobody to look after my daughter. My problem is that last october I spoke to my manager asking if I could do the 10 am starts instead of 8am starts so that I could see my daughter to school. I also asked for no nightshifts on school nights as my daughtee cant just randomly stay at peoples houses on a school night. Remember I have nobody to watch her! Explained my dilemma and said I also disnt want to impact on the service users either. So I asked him if he couldn't accomodate to just let me know as my child comes first. I had to go back to my manager several times before I finally got an answer that yes I could be accommodated. I did say I had no issue looking for another job more suitable but was told this was not required. Last week my team leader messaged to say I will have to do nights through the week now and what nights would be best for me? Iam so upset that it has been left until now. I said I will do whatever as school holidays coming up but god knows where im putting her. I then messaged to say I was worried when kids go back to school as obviously nowhere babysits overnight. She said the rota has to be fair. Im angry as I spoke about my problems in october and im getting hit with this now. Please can you help???

Our Response:
All you can do is apply for flexible working hours to suit your childcare. You should apply for this officially under theEmployment Rights Acts 1996 and the Flexible Working Regulations 2014. Your employer has to give your request due consideration and if refusing, must come up with good business reasons as to why. If your request is granted officially, you should have your contract amended to reflect the new working hours so that if your employer did not stick to the hours, it would result in a breach of contract. If your employer refuses to do this, there's not really much you can about it unfortunately.
LawAndParents - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:19 PM
I am a support worker. I have never had any problems with any shifts until my mum passed away last september. I actually have nobody to look after my daughter. My problem is that last october i spoke to my manager asking if i could do the 10 am starts instead of 8am starts so that i could see my daughter to school. I also asked for no nightshifts on school nights as my daughtee cant just randomly stay at peoples houses on a school night. Remember i have nobody to watch her! Explained my dilemma and said i also disnt want to impact on the service users either. So i asked him if he couldn't accomodate to just let me know as my child comes first. I had to go back to my manager several times before i finally got an answer that yes i could be accommodated. I did say i had no issue looking for another job more suitable but was told this was not required. Last week my team leader messaged to say i will have to do nights through the week now and what nights would be best for me? Iam so upset that it has been left until now . I said i will do whatever as school holidays coming up but god knows where im putting her. I then messaged to say i was worried when kids go back to school as obviously nowhere babysits overnight . She said the rota has to be fair. Im angry as i spoke about my problems in october and im getting hit with this now. Please can you help???
Blue eyes - 23-Jun-17 @ 7:09 PM
Single mum- Your Question:
Hi I'm currantly contracted to 40 hours I've applied for flexible working term time, still doing 40 hours,due to become a single parent a year ago Im constantly struggling to pay bills, childcare and this is getting me down, I have no other support.I know this is going to be refused, what are my rights

Our Response:
Your employer must give your request due consideration and must give a good reason for refusing. If your employer does refuse, there's not much you can do about it unfortunately. Instead of asking for term time only work (which most non-education based employers would consider impractical), maybe it's worth asking for school hours in term time or a 3 day week during school holiday periods etc?
LawAndParents - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:43 AM
Hi I'm currantly contracted to 40 hours I've applied for flexible working term time, still doing 40 hours,due tobecome a single parent a year ago Im constantly struggling to pay bills, childcare and this is getting me down, I have no other support . I know this is going to be refused, what are my rights
Single mum - 21-Feb-17 @ 8:27 PM
I have worked with my company for over a year and a half I helped out one week with a night shift as my sister was on holidays from work now they are trying to teller I have to do night shift when I have no one that can look after my kids as all my family work I lost my mum 2 years ago who always looked after them I work my weekend and the other single parents don't have to so why is it any different that I can't do night shift but I always help them out when needed.
Helen - 18-Dec-16 @ 10:34 PM
monie - Your Question:
Hi, I work part time from 08.30-3.15 3 days a week, so I can fit around the school times. I have done this job for a year, and iam on a perm contract. We had a meeting 2 weeks ago to tell us that nights were going and that all part timers would have to do 13 hours a week. This is a drop of 5 hours a week. I had a meeting with my boss on friday, and was told that they would give me 13 hours a week until october, then I would either have to go on zero hours or leave. Can you tell me can they do this.

Our Response:
Yes this is a breach of your employment contract. Ask your trade union rep' what the union is doing about this. If you don't have a trade union, you should call ACAS on 0300 123 1100 for advice on how to complain about a breach of contract.
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-16 @ 10:19 AM
Hi, i work part time from 08.30-3.15 3 days a week, so i can fit around the school times. I have done this job for a year, and iam on a perm contract. We had a meeting 2 weeks ago to tell us that nights were going and that all part timers would have to do 13 hours a week. This is a drop of 5 hours a week. I had a meeting with my boss on friday, and was told that they would give me 13 hours a week until october, then i would either have to go on zero hours or leave. Can you tell me can they do this.
monie - 26-Jun-16 @ 11:13 AM
Hi no one seems to share my situation and i can't find help anywhere!! I began my fantastic job with full flexibility as my ex partner was unemployed and the arrangement was for him to take care of our children whilst i worked which i assumed was mutually beneficial, the hours range from 7am to 8pm and involve many weekends. His increasing unwillingness to have the children and unreliability caused me to drop my hours and my employer has been completely understanding however now that my ex has a job he is only picking the children up from school 2 days per week and no weekends and is being very unreasonable and willing to co-oporate and his unwillingness to discuss weekends off with his employer has caused alot of stress and I am expected at work to work some weekends and I do not know where to turn as he has no obligation what so ever to co-oporate with me or to help me pay for childcare! Thats life as he puts it. I have run out of options and dont know where to turn!!!
Kayting - 16-Apr-16 @ 9:49 AM
Laura - Your Question:
Hi, I was employed as a full time support worker and after I passed my probation period I had to change my hours to bank hours where I pick up shifts instead of being garenteed hours each month/week due to not having much help with babysitters for my 2yr old, I also found out I was pregnant when I changed my hours and am being told I am not entitled to maternity or SMP even though I started my employment June 2015 and am 20weeks pregnant what do I do?

Our Response:
You should check your contract terms are you classified as a "casual worker" or "zero hours worker" now? In general to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay you must have average earnings that are at least the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (£112 per week) for the 15 weeks before the baby is due. Average earnings for SMP are calculated over eight weeks using paydays up to and including the 15th week.
LawAndParents - 8-Apr-16 @ 12:09 PM
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