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Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
As a working parent, you may have a legal right to take time off
in certain circumstances. You may also be able to request a change
in your working week to help you juggle your work and caring
If you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks you
normally have the right to apply to your employer for flexible
working arrangements, for example a change to the times or hours
you work or the option to work from home.
Employers must consider such requests seriously and are only
able to refuse the request when there is a clear business
Who is entitled to flexible working?
To be eligible to make a request for flexible working under the
current provisions you must:
As long as you meet these tests you can ask for flexible working
regardless of whether you have caring responsibilities or not.
How do I make a request for flexible working?
You should make your request in writing, making clear that it is
a statutory request. You should also set out:
If you are asking for a change in order to help you better care
for your disabled child, we would recommend that you also make this
clear in your written request along with details of the likely
impact on your family life if your request is turned
What should I do if my request is refused?
Check with your employer if they allow you to appeal. If not,
write to them asking them to reconsider. You should also seek
advice from a service specialising in employment advice such as ACAS or
Parental leave gives parents the right to take time off work to
look after their children. Parental leave is normally unpaid but
some employers have more generous provisions. Check your contract
Who qualifies for parental leave?
To qualify for leave parents must have worked for an employer
continuously for one year and must give at least 21 days' notice.
They must also use the leave time to care for their child.
Parents who qualify must be allowed at least 18 weeks unpaid
leave for each child aged under 18, regardless of whether they are
disabled or not.
Both parents have the right to parental leave so each can take
up to 18 weeks leave per child, to be used before the child's 18th
How can I take parental leave?
Normally you have to take parental leave in blocks of one week
or more. However parents of a child on Disability Living Allowance
or Personal Independence
Payment can take leave a day at a time. This means you could
use parental leave for regular hospital visits.
The maximum amount of leave a parent can take for any one child
in one year is normally four weeks, but your employer can let you
take a longer period of parental leave each year if they wish.
You must give at least 21 days' notice. Your employer can ask
you to postpone your leave for up to six months if it would cause
disruption to their business. Seek further advice if this happens
Returning to work
If you take four weeks or fewer parental leave you are
guaranteed returning to your same job. If you take more than four
weeks and it is not reasonably possible for you to be allowed to
return to your old job, you are entitled to a similar job with the
same or better status as the previous one.
You can take time off work to deal with an
emergency relating to a dependant. This could be a parent, partner,
child, or someone for whom an individual has sole care. Your
employer cannot penalise you for taking dependants leave as long as
your reasons for taking this leave are genuine. Any leave you take
will be unpaid unless your contract of employment says
When can you take time off for a dependant?
You are allowed time off only to deal with
emergencies or other unexpected events. For example if your
You cannot take dependants leave to deal with
a situation that was foreseen or planned. In these situations, you
would need to take parental leave (see above), annual leave or
other any other available leave.
How much time off can I take?
Time off for dependants usually only covers the time taken to
deal with the immediate event and to make alternative arrangements.
It won't cover you providing long term care yourself. For anything
longer term you will need to use parental, annual or other leave.
You must notify your employer of the reasons for your absence as
soon as possible and tell them how long you expect to be
There is no set time limit on the amount of time you can take
but it must be reasonable in all the circumstances. Normally this
will only be a day or two but this may vary depending on the
individual circumstances. For example whether you have a partner or
other family members who can help. Seek specialist employment
advice from an organisation such as
Working Families or ACAS if
you think that you will need more than a day or two's leave.
As an employee you may also be entitled to time off if you or your
partner has either had a baby or adopted a child in the last