Your rights as a working parent
As a working parent, juggling childcare with work can be difficult, and might cause concern about managing these commitments. For example, what happens if your child is ill and you have to take a day off or childcare arrangements fall through? In this article, we look at your rights as a working parent and what you are entitled to receive so that you don’t have to compromise your career.
Time off to look after your child
If you are an employee, you are allowed to take time off for emergencies relating to your children. For example, if your child is unwell and you have no childcare.
How much time off can you get?
There is no prescribed amount of time off you can take to deal with an emergency situation; but you are allowed a ‘reasonable’ amount. However, if you need an extended amount of time off, i.e. more than a few hours or days, then your employer may request that you take the time off as part of your holiday allowance or parental leave.
Will I get paid for being off?
Your employer is not obligated to pay you for this time off, as it will be a contractual entitlement rather than statutory. Therefore, you should check your contract of employment to see if you are entitled to be paid.
Until your child turns 18, you have a right to take parental leave. This time off is generally unpaid unless you have any contractual entitlement stating otherwise.
In what situations can I take parental leave?
You can take parental leave to look after your child and their welfare. For example, caring for them during school holidays or periods of sickness.
How much parental leave am I entitled to?
Each parent can take up to 18 weeks of leave for each child, which can be taken up until their 18th birthday. You can take no longer than 4 weeks off per year, and this time has to be taken in blocks of at least 1 week at a time, rather than individual days.
One thing to note is that your parental leave relates to your child, not your job. For example, if you get a new job, you do not revert to your full parental leave entitlement, as any leave you have taken in your previous job will remain deducted from your total 18 weeks per child.
Employees have a right to request flexible working, providing they meet certain criteria.
What is flexible working?
Flexible working is when you amend your working arrangements; whether it be reducing your hours, working from home or changing your start and finish times to be more flexible to work around childcare.
Employers must consider all flexible working requests, and they must deal with them in a ‘reasonable manner'. If they refuse the request, they must write to you and provide business reasons for doing so and allow you the opportunity to appeal the decision.