Do you have a right to change your contractual hours after returning from maternity leave?

Jul 09, 2014
If you will soon be returning to work after maternity leave, but wish to return on a part time basis do you have a right to change your contractual hours now you have a child?

Under the previous law, all ‘eligible’ employees had a right to request flexible working. Eligible employees were only those who cared for adults or children under 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and had 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date the application was made. However, from 30 June 2014, any employee who has been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks has the right to submit a request for flexible working and will therefore have the ability to request a change in their hours of work. As such, having a child is no longer a prerequisite to being able to make such a request.

Employers must give serious consideration to any flexible working applications, but the entitlement to make requests does not give any employees (whether they have children or not) an automatic right to work flexibly. When your employer receives your application, they will be under a duty to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’, and generally deal with the request and any appeal within a period of 3 months. Employers do have the ability to refuse requests on business grounds.

If the request is accepted, this will result in a permanent change to your contract of employment unless a trial period is agreed with your employer. If the request is rejected, you have a right of appeal, however only one flexible working request can be made to your employer in a 12 month period.

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