Posted by Jemma Breban on 19th December 2011

Returning to work as a lone parent can be a daunting prospect. You now have to combine your abilities as an employee with your parental responsibilities and can feel pulled in opposite directions.

To achieve a successful work/life balance, it is likely you will need to make changes both to your working pattern and your childcare arrangements.

Flexible Working

Fortunately, employers are becoming more aware of the benefits of flexible working both for business and the employee. Legislation states that:

  • Parents of children aged under 6 or of disabled children aged under 18 have the right to apply to their employer for flexible working.
  • Your employer does not have to agree but must consider your request seriously and give valid business reasons if they refuse.
  • You have the right to appeal.
  • You have the right to apply every twelve months as your childcare needs change.

Put Your Case Positively

When putting together your application for flexible working, consider your childcare needs together with the needs of the business.

  • Seek out others working flexibly in your workplace.
  • Could your work pattern follow a similar one?
  • Consider possible objections to your application and find valid business reasons to counter them.
  • Accentuate the benefits of your flexible working. Can you cover busy times such as lunches?

If your application is granted and you are happy with it, make sure you get a revised contract.

Which Working Pattern Suits You?

Luckily, today the 9-5 working pattern is not seen as the only option. Many people choose to spread their hours as follows:

  • Part-time work allows you to reduce the number of hours you work per week. e.g. you could work 5 mornings per week or three full days. This can be done as a job share with another flexible worker.
  • Flexi-working gives you the opportunity to work more evenings and weekends. This is useful if you have a flexible childcare arrangement such as childminder or parent.
  • Tele-working, sometime called home working can be beneficial if you have the type of job which can be performed remotely using the internet. This can be self-employed or for an employer.
  • Compressed hours allow you to work long shifts over a few days i.e. 12 hour shifts over three days.

Parental Leave

As a working parent with one year’s continuous service at work, you’re entitled to up to 13 weeks parental leave for each child up until their 5th birthday (more if your child is disabled). Your employer does not have to pay for this leave but some may as part of your terms and conditions.

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