Posted on 6.1.21
Last month Danielle Ayres, Partner and Pregnancy & Maternity Discrimination Specialist in the Gorvins Employment team, took part in a live Q&A session on Instagram with Slumbertots and we’ve decided to do a quick summary for you answering the questions covered in the session as they are topics that we deal with frequently.
- Does my employer have to agree to my request to go part-time after having a baby or can they refuse and force me to work full-time?
I would always suggest that you raise the issue of flexible working on an informal basis first, to see whether your employer thinks it can be accommodated. It may be as a result of those informal discussions, that an agreement can be reached, without the need for a more formal process. Plus, you can only make 1 statutory formal request in any 12-month period, so helps to see if you can agree it informally first.
If you cannot reach an agreement, in order for your employer to give proper and adequate attention to your flexible working request, you should submit a statutory formal flexible working request. All employees who have 26 weeks continuous service can make one of these requests. If you do not have the requisite service, it does not stop you asking on an informal basis for your request to be considered.
Any application should set out when you want the arrangement to start, what you are looking for in terms of hours, days of work etc and why you think it will work. You should address any problems you foresee and how they can be overcome. A helpful pointer here is to speak to your team and see whether they think there will be any detrimental impact to them, or the team in you working under the proposed arrangements. IF they see no issue, you can refer to this within your proposal to your employer.
Your employer should arrange a meeting with you to discuss the request and ten provide their decision in writing.
An employer can only turn down a request for any 1 of the 8 following reasons:
- Planned structural changes
- The burden of additional costs
- Quality or standards will suffer
- They won’t be able to recruit additional staff
- Performance will suffer
- Won’t be able to reorganise work among existing staff
- Will struggle to meet customer demand
- Lack of work during the periods you propose to work
Hopefully, if you have a strong proposal, it will be difficult for your employer to turn down the request, but if they do, they will have to support the reason they give for their refusal with evidence. You can then submit an appeal against the decision.
If an agreement is reached with your employer, your terms and conditions of employment will be amended and you should always make sure that you are happy with the terms and that you get this confirmed in writing.
- Am I entitled to part-time working hours, if I have provided a reasonable role that would benefit my employer?
This isn’t a straightforward “yes” as you might expect, unfortunately. To have your request considered you’ll need to ask your employer if they think it is feasible. You can do this informally or submit a statutory formal flexible working request (please see above).
However, if it is that you have an offer your employer cannot refuse, it may be very hard for them to turn down your request, or come up with a reason as to why you cannot take up the part-time role. If they do, there may be grounds to argue that they have dealt with your request in an unreasonable manner.
- How long do I need to work somewhere before I can realistically negotiate to go part-time?
Employees are legally entitled to make a flexible working request when they have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks. However, that doesn’t stop you from asking on an informal basis for reduced hours/days before this. You can even bring up this issue during the interview process, to see if they can accommodate flexible working from the outset of your employment.
- I’m on maternity leave and have found out I am pregnant again – due 2 weeks after I was supposed to go back to work, will I get maternity leave again?
All employees are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave with each pregnancy. So if you have taken one lot of 52 weeks and then become pregnant again, you will be entitled to a further 52 weeks, whether that is taken with / without a break in between.
However, that may not be the case with maternity pay. Employees should always firstly check their employer’s maternity policy to see if they get contractual maternity pay and if they do, whether they would have to return to work in between 2 consecutive maternity leaves to qualify for the increased pay.
For Statutory Maternity Pay, it will depend on timing as you have to meet certain criteria to qualify. You must have worked for your employer in the 15th week before your baby is due and have worked for them for at least 26 weeks before that (which will probably be the case here). Your average pay must also be at least £120 a week. This will be worked out in the “qualifying period” which is 8 weeks, finishing 15 weeks before your baby is due.
There is a great calculator you can use on the gov.uk website – https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents