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If you wish to become fully involved in your child’s life and share parenting you may need to adjust your working hours. Under the Employment Act 2002 you have the right to ask your employer to vary your contract of employment to enable you to care more effectively for your child’s needs. Your employer is obliged to take such an application seriously, and if it is refused, he or she must give reasonable grounds.

You are entitled to request changes to the hours you work, the times you work, or your place of work. Flexible working can include working from home, job sharing, taking time off in lieu, teleworking, team working, staggering your hours and additional entitlement to leave.

To qualify:

· you must have a child under the age of 16 (or a disabled child under the age of 18);

· you must have legal responsibility for the child;

· the child must be living with you;

· the purpose of your request must be to care for your child;

· you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks; and

· you must not have made an application in the previous 6 months.

You should make the application in writing to your employer and state that it is an application to change the terms of your employment, specify the changes you want and their date of commencement, explain the impact you anticipate on your employer’s business and suggest ways to mitigate that, and explain why you need those changes to be made. The Government has provided a template letter you can use.

If your application is reasonable and reasoned your employer should agree to it. If not, he must invite you to a meeting within 28 days to which you can bring a colleague. Within 14 days he must either agree the original proposal, agree a revised proposal discussed at the meeting, or give clear business reasons why he cannot agree to a change in your working. You must then be allowed to appeal within a further 14 days.

Reasonable grounds to refuse your request are:

· the burden of additional costs;

· detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;

· inability to re-organise work among existing staff;

· inability to recruit additional staff;

· detrimental impact on quality;

· detrimental impact on performance;

· insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;

· planned structural changes; and

· such other grounds as the Secretary of State may specify by regulations.

If your employer refuses your request there are various sources of advice you can approach,

· your union if you have one;

· the Citizens Advice Bureau;

· a solicitor;

· ACAS – if they conclude your employer has acted unreasonably they can order him to reconsider and award you compensation;

· an employment tribunal.

Your employer may reasonably reduce your pay and/or benefits, but cannot dismiss you or treat you unfairly for making the application.