Most parents understand how difficult it can be to juggle work and childcare. There are, however, rights in place to assist employees, such as the right to request flexible working and time off to care for children. Read on for more information.
Right To Apply To Work Flexibly
You may wish to adjust your working hours or days to fit around caring for your child. If you are an employee with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment you can make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme. (In fact, the right to request flexible working applies to all employees, not just working parents). Your employer must deal with your application in a reasonable manner, but they can refuse your request providing they give sound business reasons. These might be, for example, that quality or performance of the business would be adversely affected or if the changes would involve significant additional costs to the business.
Usually any agreed change in your working arrangements will be permanent but your circumstances may change over time and it is open to you to make future requests to work flexibly. However you can only make one statutory application each year.
Time Off For Dependants
Most employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take necessary action to deal with particular situations affecting their children. The right applies, irrespective of your length of service, whether you work full-time or part-time or are employed on a permanent, temporary or fixed-term basis.
Particular situations include providing assistance if your child falls ill or is injured, making care arrangements for your child if they are ill or injured, dealing with unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of your child (for example if your childminder is unexpectedly ill) and dealing with an unexpected incident which involves your child during school hours.
The right to unpaid time off does not apply to planned time off to care for your child; for example, to take them to a planned medical appointment. However, in this situation you might take unpaid parental leave (see below) or be able to simply agree with your employer that you will take unpaid or annual leave, or make arrangements for temporary or permanent flexible working.
Parental leave is a form of statutory unpaid leave available to birth and adoptive parents and anyone who has parental responsibility for a child and who has been employed continuously for at least a year. The right applies in respect of each child: for one child you may normally take 18 weeks’ leave; for two children you would be entitled to 36 weeks’ leave in total. You may take parental leave at any time before your child’s 18th birthday. Parental leave can be flexible in terms of the time at which it is taken and the way in which the total leave entitlement may be split up into a number of shorter periods (unlike arrangements for maternity, paternity or adoption leave).
Other Parental Leave Rights
The other statutory parental leave rights are broadly made up of:
- Maternity leave – leave to attend antenatal appointments and up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave;
- Paternity leave – 2 weeks’ paternity leave;
- Adoption leave – up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave.
- Shared parental leave – gives parents a more flexible way to take leave in the first year after the birth of your child or the placement of a child with you for adoption. Essentially, the scheme makes up to 50 weeks available for eligible parents to take or share.
Can We Help You?
The above is an overview and does not deal in any detail with eligibility, the process for applying for flexible working or leave, or your rights if your application is refused. If you would like specific advice please contact one of our specialist employment law solicitors at Lincs Law on 01522 440512 or visit our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk for more details on how we can help you.
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
LincsLaw Employment Solicitors