Back to School for Employers

As a new school year is about to start, we thought it would be a good time to look at some family friendly rights working parents in your organisation may wish to use. If you haven’t come across these rights before, we’ve set out some key facts it can be helpful to know.

1. Striking the right balance…

Achieving a good work-life balance is a goal for many employees and some use the right to request flexible working as a way of achieving this. With children starting or returning to school soon employers may find that some employees would like to change their hours.

Whilst the thought of managing a flexible working request may seem daunting, it doesn’t need to be. Here are some key things to bear in mind:

  • A statutory flexible working request can be made by any employee who has at least 26 weeks service and who has not made another statutory flexible working request in the previous 12 months.
  • Flexible working requests can be made for any reason – they are not limited to those with caring responsibilities.
  • Just because someone has requested flexible working doesn’t mean an employer has to agree to it – there are set statutory grounds on which requests can be refused. However, you should always seek advice on the facts of your case before refusing a flexible working request.
  • If a flexible working request is received it should be dealt with promptly and in a reasonable manner. This will usually involve inviting an employee to attend a meeting to discuss their request, investigating whether it can be accommodated and giving a written decision. The whole process, including any appeal (where applicable), should usually be completed within three months of the request being made.
  • If the request is agreed, the changes will usually be permanent so it’s important to ensure the employee’s terms and conditions are properly varied.

If you receive a flexible working request, Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd are here to help. We can provide practical guidance and support throughout the process.

2. In case of emergency…

Employees have the statutory right to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving their dependants, including children.  Dependent care leave can entitle a parent to take time off in a number of scenarios including:

  • To deal with an unexpected incident which involves their child whilst at school or nursery, such as the child having an accident;
  • Because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a child, such as a childminder falling ill;
  • To make provision for the care of a sick or injured child, such as arranging for a relative to look after a child who is too ill to go to school.

It’s important to be able to recognise when an employee is taking dependent care leave to ensure that it is dealt with appropriately. This is because  employees are protected from being dismissed, disciplined or being subjected to any other adverse treatment for taking this type of leave. This is the case even if they have only just started working for you. It should also be borne in mind that as this type of leave involves an emergency, there is no period of notice employees need to give to take it.

If you have any questions about dependent care leave, please do not hesitate to contact your Employment Law Specialist who will be happy to help.

3. Taking a little extra care…

Sometimes employees want to take some extra time away from work to care for their child. If they qualify for it, unpaid parental leave can enable them to do so. As parental leave isn’t one of the more commonly used family friendly rights, it’s helpful to  be aware that:

  • To be able to take parental leave your employee must have one years’ continuity of service, usually be the parent of the child and be taking time off to care for them;
  • The entitlement is to a maximum of 18 weeks parental leave per parent for each child. Parental leave can be taken up to a child’s 18th birthday;
  • Unless your organisation is more generous, parents cannot take more than four weeks parental leave per qualifying child per year;
  • Employees will need to give at least 21 days’ notice of their intention to take parental leave.

Unlike other types of family friendly leave, employers can in some circumstances require the employee to postpone the leave they wish to take, although you should always seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking such a step.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact your Employment law Specialist.


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