Duncan Lewis

Family Law

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What Are My Rights to Vary My Working Hours if I Have a Two Year Old Child?

Date: (20 September 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:Both employees and employers are increasingly realising the benefits of flexible working; it makes good business sense for employers to assist employees by providing flexible hours and reaping the benefits in terms of increased productivity on the part of a contented employee. As most successful business owners can tell you, a happy company is a productive company.

In some circumstances, employees have the right to flexible working hours, at least temporarily, and employment solicitors will be able to advise you on your legal position in this respect. A solicitor such as Duncan Lewis will have a considerable amount of experience dealing with employment law cases in this as well as other areas.

When you adopt a working pattern that suits your individual needs, this will fall under the general heading of ‘flexible working’, and it can take many forms. One of the more common types of flexible working is flexi-time, in which you have some core hours, but can arrange the other hours you need to complete your working week to suit yourself as long as they add up to the correct amount of time. There are also annualised hours, usually involving shifts, and compressed hours where you can work your time over fewer, longer days to free some other days up. Staggered hours are where employees in the same department work different hours and have different breaks, while with job sharing a job that was designed for one employee is shared between two workers. Working from home and working on a part time basis are the other two main types of flexible working common in today’s organisations, although there are other types as well.

Parents of young children are often especially keen on working flexible hours for obvious reasons; in the event that a mutually beneficial agreement can’t be reached with the employer informally, the employee will have to check whether they have a statutory right to this, and then prepare a case for their employer. First of all, you must have a child under the age of six years old, and you must demonstrate that you are responsible for the child and that your application is being made in order to care for it. You must have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks before you apply.

The employer, after receiving your application, will have to arrange a meeting with you within 28 days, and make a decision within 14 days. A refusal has to be justified on business grounds, and an appeal against the decision has to be made in writing, after which the employer has 14 days to organise an appeal meeting. A final decision must be made within another 14 days.

If flexible working arrangements are still not granted, the employee can turn to the organisation’s own grievance procedure, go through the Acas Arbitration Scheme or take the employer to an industrial tribunal.