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Flexible Working

Flexible working – the law - April 2009.  On 6 April 2009 the flexible working laws were extended and now anyone with kids aged 16 and under has the right to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements. 
Parents of disabled children up to the age of 18 and carers of adults, can also ask to work flexibly.  The recently introduced rules mean that even if children are older, parents now have the right to ask for a bit more support to be able to give them the time they need.  

Under the law, employers must seriously consider an application for flexible working, and can only turn it down it if there is a good business reason for doing so.  However it is important to remember that the law doesn’t give you the right to work flexibly – just the right to ask.  

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is any working pattern that benefits you and your employer.  Examples include working part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours or staggered hours, job sharing or working from home.

How to make a flexible working request

    * Write a letter or fill in an application form. Your employer may provide you with one or you can get one from
    * Your employer should arrange a meeting with you within 28 days to discuss your application
    * Within 14 days you should receive your employer’s decision in writing
    * If your request is accepted you will need to meet with your employer to agree your new working pattern
    * If your request is rejected you may appeal in writing

For more information

Directgov is a one stop shop for information on flexible working and the law, plus advice on how to make your case and standard application forms. Go to - click on ‘employment’ then ‘parental leave and flexible working’. 
Some facts and figures  

Numbers of employees eligible1 to request flexible working

    * 2003 legislation = 3.6m parents of children aged up to 6
    * 2007 legislation = 2.65m carers
    * 2009 legislation = 4.5m parents of children aged 16 and under
    * Approximately 10m employees are eligible in total.

Consumer research – what parents are saying about flexible working

A survey of 1,004 parents of children aged 0-16 was commissioned by the Government Equalities Office and conducted by BMRB during March 2009.  The research found:

    * 51% of parents said their relationship with their child would improve if they could work flexibly
    * Two thirds of working parents stated it would be helpful to work flexibly as their children get older
    * Half of parents of 11-16 year olds said that they would help with homework if they could find the time
    * 53% of parents feel their job prevents them spending the amount of time they would like with their children
    * 46% of working mums say that working flexibly would reduce stress for them, compared with 33 per cent of dads
Flexible working – Key dates

    * The right to request flexible working was part of the 2002 Employment Rights Act.  It came into force in April 2003
    * Since April 2003, employees with disabled children aged up to 18, or with children up to the age of six, have had the right to ask for flexible working arrangements
    * As of April 2007 people caring for an adult who is a relative or lives at the same address, have had the right to ask for flexible working arrangements
    * The right to request flexible working was extended to parents of children aged 16 and under, in April 2009

Other rights to time off

Maternity Leave: Available to all pregnant women regardless of how long they have been working for their employer (i.e. a ‘day one’ right).  Women should tell their employer by the 15th week before the child is due that they intend to take maternity leave.  They are entitled to take 52 weeks.

Paternity leave: (sometimes known as ‘maternity support leave’) available to all fathers and partners of pregnant women (e.g. lesbian partners) provided they have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the15th week before the baby is due.  They have to tell their employer that they intend to take paternity leave by this time.  Paternity leave is two weeks around the birth of the baby – it has to be taken within 56 days of the child’s birth.

Adoption Leave: 52 weeks leave available for a parent that is adopting a child. If two parents are adopting a child, the parent can decide who will take the full entitlement and who will take the paternity leave.  A parent must have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the week in which they are notified that a child has been found to be placed in their care.

Parental leave: 13 weeks unpaid leave available for all parents until their child’s fifth birthday.  Parents have to have been working for the same employer for a year before they are eligible to use their parental leave entitlement.  Employers can offer pay for this leave if they want to.

Emergency Time Off for dependents: unpaid leave for anyone with a dependent to deal with an emergency e.g. childcare breakdown; sickness of child; mother falls down the stairs and needs hospital treatment.  Employers can offer pay for this leave if they want to.
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