Flexible working - how the recent law change could benefit you and your family

On 6 April 2009 flexible working laws were extended and now if you've got children aged 16 or under flexible working mother and daughteryou have the right to ask your employer if you can work flexibly. This is an extension of the previous right that applied to parents of children under six.

Everyone knows working and bringing up kids can be a struggle – whatever the age of the children. In fact a recent survey of working parents for the Government Equalities Office found that two-thirds think it would help if they could work flexibly as their children get older.

And with over half of parents feeling their job stops them spending the amount of time they would like with their children, it's obvious that many mums and dads have been crying out for a little extra flexible working mother and daughterhelp with juggling the demands of a job and a family.

Sue, a special education needs coordinator, has a ten-year-old son.  She has been working flexibly for five years.  Sue says:
"I usually work a 22 hour week spread over four days during the school term. I'm able to take my son to school and collect him in the afternoons – picking up on all the school gossip and forming relationships with other parents.
"I am also on hand to stay at home if my son is ill and can help out with school activities. I don't have to worry about finding suitable childcare for him and save on enormous costs. The new flexible working rules will really benefit me as my son grows up."

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said: ”Children don’t stop needing their parents’ time when they reach their sixth birthday. We have already built a strong foundation of support for families through the right for parents with children under six to request flexible work. But, as any parent knows, older children going through the teenage years need just as much support and guidance.

"Families are the framework of our lives and matter not just to individuals but to our communities, the economy, and society as a whole. Mothers often tear their hair out trying to balance earning a living with bringing up their children and need more flexibility at work. And fathers want to be able to play a bigger part in bringing up their children.

“This is why we have changed the law to extend flexible working rights to parents of older children. We will continue to work with business to ensure that families continue to have real choices about how they live their lives, at the same time as making the economy strong and competitive.”

What is flexible working?

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

The right to request

The new rules give parents the right to ask for flexible working, not the right to have it. Under the law your employer has to seriously consider any application you make, and can only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so.

How do I make a flexible working request? 

Although making a request is designed to be easy, there is a process that should be followed:

  • Write a letter or fill in an application form. Your employer may provide you with one or you can get one from www.direct.gov.uk
  • 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

More information

Visit www.direct.gov.uk and click on the 'employment' section for more information and template application forms.

Last updated: about 3 years ago