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The Rights of Working Parents

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 21 Feb 2017 | 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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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
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?
Laura - 6-Apr-16 @ 11:51 PM
Working mom - Your Question:
Hi, I'm a working mom with part time contract. I has saved my allocated holidays for school summer holiday to be able to look after my son, but when I requested for holiday 6 months in advance, I have been rejected for not having enough stuff to cover my shifts. The Costco manager attitude toward the matter was offensive. He replied to my request," I run a business and to me you and your problem of child care is outsider!!" So the company now spread my holiday over months till August , 2 or 3 days a week here and there. I was wondering if there is any way to deal with this kind of attitude toward a mother who hasn't got any family or friends around to help her over summer school holidays.Many thnks

Our Response:
An employer can decide when you should take your annual leave. If however, you feel you are being discriminated against as a parent, then you should If you think you’ve been unfairly discriminated against you can talk to your employer first to try and sort out the problem informally. If things can’t be sorted out informally, talk to Acas, Citizens Advice or a trade union representative.
LawAndParents - 6-Apr-16 @ 12:47 PM
Hi, I'm a working mom with part time contract. I has saved my allocated holidays for school summer holiday to be able to look after my son, but when I requested for holiday 6 months in advance, I have been rejected for not having enough stuff to cover my shifts. The Costco manager attitude toward the matter was offensive. He replied to my request," I run a business and to me you and your problem of child care is outsider!!" So the company now spread my holiday over months till August , 2 or 3 days a week here and there. I was wondering if there is any way to deal with this kind of attitude toward a mother who hasn't got any family or friends around to help her over summer school holidays. Many thnks
Working mom - 4-Apr-16 @ 9:42 AM
My husband is in full time work our young boys came down with suspected Scarlett fever. I also became very ill on the same day, unable to look after ours boys. I had a fever and very bad aches. I later in the day found something on my boob (got it checked out the following day turned out to be mastitis) Anyway I begged my hubby to stay at home this one day to help look after are boys as I was too unwell. This is the first time he's had a day off too help in child care issues. He emailed them to let them know as we don't have a land line or phone credit. On he's next working day he had a 'back to work' interview??? Where he was made to feel the need to lie and say he was ill as these interviews are only held when you have been ill yourself. And now he's been called to a meeting as he emailed and didn't phone?? He used to only means possible to let them know
Stacey - 31-Mar-16 @ 9:08 AM
I had not long started with a new employer before going on my 39 week ML , i was still in the middle of my trail peroid with them when i went on ML .while i was on leave i used 4 of my keep in touch with my workplace and checked in with the boss on a regular basics .I returned to work 8 weeks ago , to find that my boss had taken on another front desk clerk and that my hours had been dropped by an 1 and half a week as well ( i'm on an 14.5 hour per week on contact but use to often work between 17-19 per week in overtime) . Ever since my return my boss as been fishing for any faults in my work or work parttens - am often being used now as the first point of call for any mistake that the other two front clerk make - she is just assuming it is me ( other am not even on the shifts these things have happened) . my mother looks after my 10 month old little girl while i work and i often tendto be late in picking her up cause all of the little extra's my boss wishes done at the end of each shift . my boss has made catty comments about the fact my childcare arrangements . my boss in passing made a comment about need to look at my hours again , i said will if you looking at the hours anyway , would it be possible for me to have one day per a week of back to back shifts to make childcare easier on my mum - as my shifts as all over the place atm and my boss keep making changes to the rota at the very last mintue .i'm now feel like am being forced out or forced to hand in my notice . Is there anything i can do ?
scottishsinglemother - 10-Jan-16 @ 9:14 PM
I had not long started with a new employer before going on my 39 week ML , i was still in the middle of my trail peroid with them when i went on ML .while i was on leave i used 4 of my keep in touch with my workplace and checked in with the boss on a regular basics .I returned to work 8 weeks ago , to find that my boss had taken on another front desk clerk and that my hours had been dropped by an 1 and half a week as well ( i'm on an 14.5 hour per week on contact but use to often work between 17-19 per week in overtime) . Ever since my return my boss as been fishing for any faults in my work or work parttens - am often being used now as the first point of call for any mistake that the other two front clerk make - she is just assuming it is me ( other am not even on the shifts these things have happened) . my mother looks after my 10 month old little girl while i work and i often tendto be late in picking her up cause all of the little extra's my boss wishes done at the end of each shift . my boss has made catty comments about the fact my childcare arrangements . my boss in passing made a comment about need to look at my hours again , i said will if you looking at the hours anyway , would it be possible for me to have one day per a week of back to back shifts to make childcare easier on my mum - as my shifts as all over the place atm and my boss keep making changes to the rota at the very last mintue .i'm now feel like am being forced out or forced to hand in my notice . Is there anything i can do ?
scottishsinglemother - 10-Jan-16 @ 9:14 PM
annabennetts - Your Question:
Hi my area manager has asked my manager to have a talk to me this is because I had to leave work early as my daughters nursery had rang to say she had been sick and she does need to be picked up with in the hour I dont know what they expected me to do I didnt have anyone elae that could get her what can they do if this happens again

Our Response:
You are allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving your children. This time off should be to simply deal with the emergency (e.g you're expected to find someone else to care for the child one the emergency period is over). Your employer does not have to pay you for this time off. If this happens regularly and it affects the efficient running of the organisation, your employer can take further action. You should try and make sure you have back-up for situations like this (e.g your child's father, a grandparent, friend or relative could be given the password to collect your child from nursery). Obviously in situations where emergency hospital treatment is needed, you would want to be the person to take them...you will find it much easier to get time off for this, if you have someone else in place for the non-emergency situations.
LawAndParents - 18-Nov-15 @ 10:26 AM
Hi my area manager has asked my manager to have a talk to me this is because i had to leave work early as my daughters nursery had rang to say she had been sick and she does need to be picked up with in the hour i dont know what they expected me to do i didnt have anyone elae that could get her what can they do if this happens again
annabennetts - 15-Nov-15 @ 1:34 PM
My employer has rejected all my holiday request to have time off in school holidays apart from one week so I have 12 weeks of child care to cover ! Is there anything I can do ?
kateyd81 - 12-Oct-15 @ 4:30 PM
I got a phone call from my boss yesterday (Monday) saying I would go to training on Thursday and be there early, I agree as he said starts at 10am, now I found out that I would have to leave early morning and be back late at night, I have just been promoted so training is a must and would like to go.My problem is I have a child who 9 and I don't have the childcare, I've got a family member to take him to school (they are going in work late) but I won't have anyone to watch himation wards as its not just a couple of hours its until late at night, its a school night and he needs to be in bed at a reasonable time can I be demoted or even sack??? Do I have to attend??? If I don't attend what will happen???
Babygirl - 12-Sep-15 @ 8:04 PM
Tiff - Your Question:
I currently work work part time for a retail company. Our contracts are only for 8 hours but I always do more than that. I need to reduce my hours and stop working weekends as I no longer have weekend childcare for my son and I am beginning university. Can I request this and is there any rules that mean my employers have to say yes or can I be forced to leave by them not giving me any hours or sending me for workforce consultation.

Our Response:
We don't know what your contract says in terms of having to work extra hours, but in general if your contract specifies a number of hours then that is what you can expect to work. If your contract is a zero hours contract, then you can choose whether to work the extra hours or not. You can make a request for flexible working hours and your employer should give this due consideration. The employer does not however, have to consent to your request, but should give a valid reason for refusing it.
LawAndParents - 18-Aug-15 @ 12:03 PM
I currently work work part time for a retail company. Our contracts are only for 8 hours but I always do more than that. I need to reduce my hours and stop working weekends as I no longer have weekend childcare for my son and I am beginning university. Can I request this and is there any rules that mean my employers have to say yes or can I be forced to leave by them not giving me any hours or sending me for workforce consultation.
Tiff - 17-Aug-15 @ 5:26 PM
@Em. Anyone can ask for flexible working hours, but an employer does not have to consent to the request.
LawAndParents - 15-Jul-15 @ 2:38 PM
I work 30 hrs a week but we do 12 hour shifts I have a son aged 15 what is the law for flexi workin
Em - 11-Jul-15 @ 8:55 PM
@Shar. There is not much you can do about this if you have been given sufficient notice to arrange childcare (and 3 months is sufficient). Does your 7 year old have any friends' parents who would help out? Or family members? It is only for one day after all.
LawAndParents - 2-Jul-15 @ 11:29 AM
Hi, im a single parent to a 7 yr old and have worked part time two days a week between sat & Mon since returning from maternity leave. My employer has said that I have to attend a training course that is 90 miles from my home and on a day that is not within my normal working hours, I have also explained that childcare would be impossible as I would have to leave very early in the morning returning late home in the evening, I am also not happy about being so far away from my son if there was an emergency. I was told that this is a mandatory course and that they have given me 3 months notice to arrange care for my child. I'm not sure where I stand on this, I said that I would do the training but not at its current location, im not sure where to go from here
Shar - 29-Jun-15 @ 2:31 PM
@Emmy. You are allowed a 'reasonable' amount of time off to deal with an emergency relating to your child, but there's no definition of reasonable. ACAS/government advice suggests one to two days and the example given is as follows: "If your child falls ill you could take time off to go to the doctor and make care arrangements. Your employer may then ask you to take annual leave or parental leave if you want to look after your child for longer. There are no limits on how many times you can take time off for dependants. Your employer may want to talk to you if they think time off is affecting your work."
As an employee you should try to make arrangement for someone else to look after your child or to take annual leave.
LawAndParents - 15-Apr-15 @ 12:51 PM
I work full time , and I have been told I have had to much time of because my child has Sick , can the sack me over the time I have had of
Emmy - 14-Apr-15 @ 12:37 PM
@Hollz. Unfortunately the company can refuse your request for flexible working hours as long as they give a valid reason. Your only realistic option is to seek alternative employment in this situaton.
LawAndParents - 9-Mar-15 @ 2:17 PM
I am a single mum, over the past 6 months I have struggled to work my shifts in a hotel due to them not allowing me to work flexible hours, my childcare provision has fallen through which means if I work my son cannot attend school as he would need to sleep over with relatives and I would only see him 1 hour per day, his school & social services are concerned about this. This has caused me to suffer with depression due to no income and scared to resign from my post as I may not get benefits for 26 weeks, I have £900 rent arrears and no way to pay. Please can you offer me advice.
Hollz - 5-Mar-15 @ 12:34 PM
@Frustrated1 - if you are being paid for accrued holidays these should be paid at your normal rate.
LawAndParents - 2-Mar-15 @ 2:45 PM
I'm currently on maternity leave..due back in April. I've accured 20 days holidays. I've asked what she wants me to do...use them up at end of Maternity or get paid for them. She said get paid at 90% of my wage. Is that correct?
Frustrated1 - 26-Feb-15 @ 7:19 PM
@Lou. You've not said what kind of punishment...but if you take time off then unless you take paid leave, your salary will be deducted.
LawAndParents - 4-Dec-14 @ 11:03 AM
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