More parents can now get flexible work

Harman: "Children don’t stop needing their parents’ time when they reach their sixth birthday

6th April 2009: From today 4.5 million more parents of children aged 16 and under will be able to request flexible working from their employer. This is in addition to the six million parents and carers who already have the right. A total of around 10 million people will now be entitled to request flexible working.

Flexible working is any working pattern that is adapted for the benefit of the individual and that also suits their employer. Examples include: part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, staggered hours, job sharing, and working from home.

New research shows half of working parents (51 per cent) say their relationship with their child would improve if they could work flexibly.

The survey, commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, shows that two-thirds of working parents state 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. More than half (53 per cent) feel their job prevents them spending the amount of time they would like with their children.

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."

In order to qualify for flexible working arrangements, employees need to have worked for their employer for 26 weeks. his new rule is an extension of the current right to request flexible working which applies to parents of children up to six, parents of disabled children up to 18, as well as carers of adults.

Under the law employers must seriously consider all applications made, and only reject it if there is a good business reasons for doing so.
The new rule does not give employees the right to work flexibly, but the right to ask.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to request flexible working.

* Fill in an application form. Your employer may provide one, there’s a standard form available at, or all required information can be put in a letter or email.

* Your employer should then arrange a meeting with you within 28 days to discuss your application.

* Within 14 days, you should receive written notification of your employer’s decision.

* If your request is accepted you will need to meet with your employer to agree the new working arrangements.

* If your request is rejected you may appeal in writing.

For advice on particular circumstances, parents can call the Working Families free advice line on 0800 013 0313, email [email protected] or download free fact sheets from

Free guidance for individuals and businesses can be found at: 

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