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Working Rights of Single Parents

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 14 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Single Parent Flexible Working Benefits

A single parent has the full protection of UK employment legislation. In this respect, there is no distinction between a single parent who works and any other employee. A single parent, however, may have concerns about work. These worries may relate to time off, flexible working and in-work benefits. But in all of these areas, a single parent has specific working rights.

Maternity Rights

Single parents who are pregnant can have up to 52 weeks’ Maternity Leave. For 39 of these 52 weeks, a single parent can receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

There are criteria that a single parent must meet before qualifying for SMP:

  • She must be earning at least the same as the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is the amount a worker must earn before becoming liable for National Insurance contributions.
  • 15 weeks before the baby is due, she must have worked for one employer for 26 weeks or more without a break.

The employer arranges Statutory Maternity Pay. A single parent must give her employer medical proof of the baby’s due date and must say when she would like the SMP to begin.

An employer pays SMP in the same way as wage or salary payments. The amount for the first six weeks is 90% of average gross earnings per week. The amount for the next 33 weeks is either:

  • 90% of average gross weekly earnings, or
  • the current standard rate of SMP £135.45

The lower of these two figures is the amount the employer pays. If a single parent cannot receive SMP, Jobcentre Plus may be able to arrange Maternity Allowance instead.

Flexible Working Hours

Under the law, a single parent has the right to ask an employer for flexible working hours.

A single parent must be an employee and have worked for an employer without a break for 26 weeks or more. Anyone who applies for flexible working hours can only do so once every 12 months.

An employer must give serious thought to a request for flexible working hours. There must be reasonable business reasons for any decision an employer takes to refuse a Flexible Working Arrangement.

In Work Credit

The government provides extra financial help for single parents who have been claiming welfare benefits for a year or more and are returning to work. This help is in the form of the In Work Credit.

The In Work Credit is worth £40 a week tax-free (£60 a week if you live in London). Single parents who start a job and work for 16 hours or more a week can receive the payment for up to 52 weeks. In Work Credit is in addition to tax credits and welfare benefits. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for further details.

Other Welfare Benefits

Single parents have a right to claim Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit when they are working. HM Revenue and Customs runs the Tax Credit scheme.

Working single parents on low incomes should also claim Housing Benefit if they pay rent, and Council Tax Benefit if they pay council tax. Local councils administer both benefit schemes.

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Smiler - Your Question:
I have been working for my employer for nearly 5 years now and I have a 10 yr old son who was born at 28wks he has a few issues. But recently he stopped putting weight on and growing. And struggling in school. I have a parent social worker that helps my son and we are being referred to the hospital. I work 27 hrs a week mon-fri. But struggling to fit this around my son. I have asked my boss if I could do two 8hr shifts a week or split it between 3 days max and he is saying no from a business point of view apparently that wouldn't work for him because we already have staff that do that shift , he just has not got them hours. It wants me to do 4hrs over 4 days but I can't do that as I need 2 days free for appointments I am really stuck on what to do

Our Response:
You are entitled to request flexible working, see link here . Alternatively, you can speak to your employer to see if there is an alternative way around the situation that can be worked out between you. Your employer is obviously willing to negotiate with you (but he also has his business to consider). Therefore, it's about coming to a temporary agreement that works for you both.
WorkingRights - 15-Jun-18 @ 2:59 PM
Sorry 4 hrs a day over 4 days
Smiler - 14-Jun-18 @ 9:52 PM
I have been working for my employer for nearly 5 years now and I have a 10 yr old son who was born at 28wks he has a few issues.But recently he stopped putting weight on and growing . And struggling in school .I have a parent social worker that helps my son and we are being referred to the hospital. I work 27 hrs a week mon-fri . But struggling to fit this around my son . I have asked my boss if I could do two 8hr shifts a week or split it between 3 days max and he is saying no from a business point of view apparently that wouldn't work for him because we already have staff that do that shift , he just has not got them hours.It wants me to do 4hrs over 4 days but I can't do that as I need 2 days free for appointments I am really stuck on what to do
Smiler - 14-Jun-18 @ 9:50 PM
Mandinga - Your Question:
A single parent who works with me has been off due to son being ill and childminder won’t take if I’ll and also childminder was ill so she had no-one else to look after her 2. Manager is now saying she can’t keep taking time off. She is a good worker. What are her rights plz. It’s not her fault if child is ill or the childminder.

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here which should tell you all you need to know regarding your colleague taking time off to look after dependents. Also, your company should have a specific company policy outlined in her employment contract or employee handbook.
WorkingRights - 22-May-18 @ 10:13 AM
A single parent who works with me has been off due to son being ill and childminder won’t take if I’ll and also childminder was ill so she had no-one else to look after her 2. Manager is now saying she can’t keep taking time off. She is a good worker. What are her rights plz. It’s not her fault if child is ill or the childminder.
Mandinga - 21-May-18 @ 2:13 PM
I'm a single parent and my son had hearing loss and has regular hospital visits and my daughter has health problems which have been referred to the hospital. I can work any shifts over 24hr period but only over 4 days and I can do training any day. I do not do any over time as I am unable due to child care. I've worked for the NHS for 17 years and only need these hour for 18 more months
Miniboo - 11-May-18 @ 12:05 AM
Hi , I'm on flexible working hours ,Mon - Fri 9-1 , on Tues I had a call from my sons school asking me to collect him as he'd been vomiting . The manager took the call and passed it on to me , I told her what was happening and my words were.If I can get someone to dit with my son I will be back , however I won't leave him at his grandads because I don't want my dad falling ill . I left work and returned on wed morning for my shift to be told I had to go home as I hadn't rang up the previous day to let them know if I would be in . Wednesday shift wasn't mentioned the previous day , so I've lost out on my 4 hour shift , what rights do I have am a single mum . Thankyou
Caz - 6-May-18 @ 2:03 PM
NA - Your Question:
Hi am a single mum of a 12 year old. With learning difficulty. And struggle to remember stuff my employer won't give me appropriate working ours. And won't me to work till 11pm during school nights and has me in most week ends. Av try to explain to them that all a had was my mum and dad. Who are over crowded in there home and who work them self's. As well as looking after 3 autistic brother's but. Still saying if a won't my 16 ours a need to work the ours they give me as it wouldn't be fair on every one else. Don't no what to do

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot advise you what to do. The terms of your job should have been made available when you took on the job, so that you were aware of the hours you have to work. If you have been working for your employer for more than 26 week, you would have the option of applying for flexible working, please see link here and your employer has to reasonably consider your request. If your employer is making you work beyond your contracted hours, then you would have the option to refuse.
WorkingRights - 3-May-18 @ 3:28 PM
Hi am a single mum of a 12 year old. With learning difficulty.And struggle to remember stuffmy employer won't give me appropriate working ours. And won't me to work till 11pm during school nights and has me in most week ends. Av try to explain to them that all a had was my mum and dad.Who are over crowded in there homeand who work them self's. As well as looking after 3 autistic brother's but. Still saying if a won't my16 oursa need to work the ours they give me as it wouldn't be fair on every one else.Don't no what to do
NA - 1-May-18 @ 9:50 AM
Kellou - Your Question:
I have submitted a request for flexible working to my employer (I work for the NHS). I am a single parent and I’m unable to work overnight on call due to childcare responsibilities. My employer is asking me to work an additional weekend shift each month to compensate for not working over night on call. This would mean I would be working 3 weekends out of 4. I think this is unreasonable as I will still struggle to get weekend childcare 3 weekend last out of 4. Is there any legislation to support my argument? Can my oncall commitments be pro rated as I work less than 37 hours a week?

Our Response:
If you think your employer is being unreasonable (please see link here ), then you should give Acas a call to explore your options.
WorkingRights - 12-Apr-18 @ 3:23 PM
I have submitted a request for flexible working to my employer (I work for the NHS). I am a single parent and I’m unable to work overnight on call due to childcare responsibilities. My employer is asking me to work an additional weekend shift each month to compensate for not working over night on call. This would mean I would be working 3 weekends out of 4. I think this is unreasonable as I will still struggle to get weekend childcare 3 weekend last out of 4. Is there any legislation to support my argument? Can my oncall commitments be pro rated as I work less than 37 hours a week?
Kellou - 11-Apr-18 @ 8:51 PM
Cmax84 - Your Question:
I'm looking for some advice please. I'm a lone parent of a 12yr old daughter. I currently work 16hrs per work at b&m homes stores. I struggle where I live to work certain hrs I agreed to work certain hrs due to not wanting to be unemployed. This meant calling in favours from my mum, I live in a remote area with not much of a bus service an no service on a Sunday. I agreed to work 1 late shift a 4-8 per week and one sat and sun both together I'm finding it impossible and my mum is fed up with it. I signed a bit of paper agreeing to these hrs. My question I can the sack me if I ask them to take me off Sundays and 4-8 shifts?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which will tell you about opting out of Sunday working. Requesting flexible working may also be an option if you have worked for the company for over 26 weeks, please see link here. However, also be aware that you must have worked for your employer for a minimum period before you qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal at a tribunal, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 15-Mar-18 @ 12:54 PM
I'm looking for some advice please. I'm a lone parent of a 12yr old daughter.I currently work 16hrs per work at b&m homes stores.I struggle where I live to work certain hrs I agreed to work certain hrs due to not wanting to be unemployed. This meant calling in favours from my mum, I live in a remote area with not much of a bus service an no service on a Sunday.I agreed to work 1 late shift a 4-8 per week and one sat and sun both together I'm finding it impossible and my mum is fed up with it. I signed a bit of paper agreeing to these hrs.My question I can the sack me if I ask them to take me off Sundays and 4-8 shifts?
Cmax84 - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:01 AM
Single parents right - Your Question:
Hi, I have been working for my employer for several months on a set working shift pattern, which worked perfectly for my childcare needs. But now they have given me 4 days notice on a complete change on my weekly working shift pattern, Which will put me in a predicament where I cannot get childcare for two of my shifts. And with being a single parent I’m concerned at what I’m able to do within law as they have stated that this is the change and I have to comply with the changes. Is this correct? Isn’t the company supposed to give a written notice period for change of shift patterns? Help would be much appreciated!!

Our Response:
You can only really attempt to negotiate this with your employer directly. You can see via the link here. If you have been with the company for 26 weeks, then you request flexible working, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 9-Mar-18 @ 12:53 PM
Hi, I have been working for my employer for several months on a set working shift pattern, which worked perfectly for my childcare needs. But now they have given me 4 days notice on a complete change on my weekly working shift pattern, Which will put me in a predicament where I cannot get childcare for two of my shifts. And with being a single parent I’m concerned at what I’m able to do within law as they have stated that this is the change and I have to comply with the changes. Is this correct? Isn’t the company supposed to give a written notice period for change of shift patterns? Help would be much appreciated!!
Single parents right - 8-Mar-18 @ 9:28 PM
Gemma - Your Question:
I have been working for my company for just under 8 years. I have never asked for flexible working in that time until now. I am a single parent with very little child care as her dad is no use and my mum is older. I have had some sick days off due to my daughter being ill and having no one to look after her. I have been spoken to by my manager who has advised that if I’m off again even because of my child I will be given a written warning. I had since then applied for flexible hours( suggested by my manager) and I feel she is now stalling when it comes to granting this applicatiob. Can I be refused flexible hours?

Our Response:
The answer to your question can be found via the link here. Your employer must complete the whole process (including dealing with any appeal) within three months of your application.
WorkingRights - 12-Feb-18 @ 2:52 PM
I have been working for my company for just under 8 years. I have never asked for flexible working in that time until now. I am a single parent with very little child care as her dad is no use and my mum is older. I have had some sick days off due to my daughter being ill and having no one to look after her. I have been spoken to by my manager who has advised that if I’m off again even because of my child I will be given a written warning. I had since then applied for flexible hours( suggested by my manager) and I feel she is now stalling when it comes to granting this applicatiob. Can I be refused flexible hours?
Gemma - 9-Feb-18 @ 11:58 PM
Pudds - Your Question:
I have worked for my current employer for 4 years and a half years. I am on a zero hour contract and have worked 9-2:30 consistently on a part time basis for the entirety of this period. I have just been told that unless I can work until 4 then they cannot give me anymore hours. I feel very strongly that I am being discriminated against for being a single parent with little childcare options. Where do I stand from a legal point of view?

Our Response:
If you are on a zero hours contract, then there is little you can do as your employer is not obliged to provide you with minimum working hours, please see ACAS link here.
WorkingRights - 5-Feb-18 @ 4:03 PM
I have worked for my current employer for 4 years and a half years. I am on a zero hour contract and have worked 9-2:30 consistently on a part time basis for the entirety of this period. I have just been told that unless I can work until 4 then they cannot give me anymore hours. I feel very strongly that I am being discriminated against for being a single parent with little childcare options. Where do I stand from a legal point of view?
Pudds - 2-Feb-18 @ 1:02 PM
In September last year I asked for a temporary flexibly working arrangement as my childcare arrangements broke down due to my 5 year old who is displaying difficulties with her behaviour. She has been referred for assessment for possible Autism. New child care was arranged and working hours went back to normal. These have now broke down again and I want to request a permanent change to my hours so that I start at 9am instead of 8.15an so I can’t take my daughter to school. Where do I stand with this I am a single parent with 6 dependents.
Karleen - 27-Jan-18 @ 7:06 AM
Sarah - Your Question:
Can I be given a verbal warning for been off sick with a sick note? Also I am a single mother and my boss has told me if I have any more time off for illness or issues with my children I will get sacked. I have been employed with this company since November 2016. I have asked for a employee handbook but they have refused to give me one

Our Response:
Even if all your sickness absences are genuine and certificated, you can still be given a formal warning because of high levels of sickness absence. If the problem continues, you can eventually be fairly dismissed. This is because employment tribunals recognise that employers need a consistent pattern of attendance in order for the business to function effectively, you can see more via the WorkSmart link here .
WorkingRights - 22-Jan-18 @ 11:28 AM
Can I be given a verbal warning for been off sick with a sick note? Also I am a single mother and my boss has told me if I have any more time off for illness or issues with my children I will get sacked. I have been employed with this company since November 2016. I have asked for a employee handbook but they have refused to give me one
Sarah - 21-Jan-18 @ 9:51 AM
Nikla - Your Question:
After having my daughter in 2010 I returned to my full time job until 2014 when I took a part time roll, which I have never been given a contract for is this right?Also a year ago our department merged with another internally and when this happened I was advised that school holiday leave would not be a problem as although one of my new colleagues also has children we would now have 4 members of staff (not just 3) the other two not wanting leave in school holidays. Now my office manager is refusing my leave saying that myself and my job share colleague cannot have leave together in case of sickness leaving her in the office alone.It cost me more to come to work and pay for child care can they do this. As I do not have a contract for my hours I feel that I have been bullied a bit and just have to accept it.

Our Response:
There may be insurance reasons why one colleague may not be left in the office alone, so your employer may be trying to avoid a situation - you would need to establish all the facts first before you put it down to 'bullying'. This matter would have to be resolved with your employer directly in the first instance, so you may wish to ask for a meeting to discuss your issues and try to come to a working compromise. If you’re not satisfied, and still think you are being unfairly treated, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here . You also may wish to ask your employer directly for an updated contract, you can see more about contracts via the link here. Even though you do not have a written contract - you do have an 'implied' contract by being employed regular hours etc, so you do have rights. However, mutual negotiation is your best option in this instance.
WorkingRights - 9-Jan-18 @ 10:12 AM
After having my daughter in 2010 I returned to my full time job until 2014 when I took a part time roll, which I have never been given a contract for is this right? Also a year ago our department merged with another internally and when this happened I was advised that school holiday leave would not be a problem as although one of my new colleagues also has children we would now have 4 members of staff (not just 3) the other two not wanting leave in school holidays. Now my office manager is refusing my leave saying that myself and my job share colleague cannot have leave together in case of sickness leaving her in the office alone.It cost me more to come to work and pay for child care can they do this. As I do not have a contract for my hours I feel that I have been bullied a bit and just have to accept it.
Nikla - 8-Jan-18 @ 1:16 PM
I have been in full time employment for 3.5 years, my manager who has been in the business just over a year has decided I cannot do my job as a manager and has questioned whether I should be in this position. I recently brought the conduct of another manager within the business to question with in appropriate behaviour, as I can imagine there was no bias in this so they asked me to apologiseand I refused so now have a written warning, not for my "greivence" but for my insubordination as I didn't apologise. I now find myself the subject of not being flexible with my hours and as a manager should I be in this position as a single mother who's hours were agreed prior to my line managers employment as she deems it not suitable oh that that all of a suden I can't do my job so should I be a manage - do they have a case to sack or demot me??
the3tees - 6-Dec-17 @ 9:10 PM
I'm a single mum with two boys, 8 and 3, I've worked all my life and on the 20 th June 2017 took on new employment with a company. Monday to Friday about three weeks ago the company announced 5 over 7 working including weekends and staff were entered into 30 day consultation. I absolutely love my job/role my two boys are in breakfast club and afterschool/ nursery during the week. I have no childcare at the weekends and I have been forced into a corner. I feel like I am being forced to give my notice because I cannot source childcare for the weekend. I understand why the company are doing this but I cannot be part of this not because I do not want to but simply because my circumstances don't allow me to!!!What are my options/what can you advice? I have made my employer aware of this and despite this they have rolled out weekend rota's with myself and all other staff on it. I am the only person with dependants so obviously everyone else is ok with the consultation and new rota. I have yet to sign my new contract but I know I cannot do this? Help please
Ash - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:01 PM
I work voluntary for a local health club (no contract) however I assist clients and motivate and correct form and sometimes train them etc, take their weight and generally clean and assist the full time staff.I do not have a contract, however have been employed as the ambassador of the health club for the past year (may 2016) I used to get paid for my work but now do not teach so no longer get payment, I do however get my monthly training free of charge, I have just been told that my role is no longer there and if I want to keep training I will have to pay monthly.do I have a claim??
ivan - 31-Oct-17 @ 7:58 PM
Suzanne03 - Your Question:
I started a new job 3 months ago. The shifts were anything between 8am to 2pm or 2pm to 8pm. Day shifts. Usually around 30 to 36 hours a week. However today I was told my contract is to be changed to include nights and I will be required to work some night shifts. I don’t want night shifts whatsoever! It’s just me and my 2 young girls. I don’t have a partner. Can they do this? I’m really worried as I love my job and don’t want to leave, but feel I have no choice. My youngest is 11 and my eldest 13. I can’t leave them alone to do a 12 hour night shift. I don’t know what to do apart from look for another job!Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
As you are still effectively in your probationary period, it means your employer can change your contract, if your employer is writing you a new one as a permanent employee. You can either agree with the terms, or disagree. You would really have to negotiate this directly with your employer to see if there is any way the issue can be solved. Ordinarily, you would be able to apply for 'flexible working' but you cannot do this until you have been in the employment for 26 weeks.
WorkingRights - 30-Oct-17 @ 2:27 PM
I started a new job 3 months ago. The shifts were anything between 8am to 2pm or 2pm to 8pm. Day shifts. Usually around 30 to 36 hours a week. However today I was told my contract is to be changed to include nights and I will be required to work some night shifts. I don’t want night shifts whatsoever! It’s just me and my2 young girls. I don’t have a partner. Can they do this? I’m really worried as I love my job and don’t want to leave, but feel I have no choice. My youngest is 11 and my eldest 13. I can’t leave them alone to do a 12 hour night shift. I don’t know what to do apart from look for another job! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated..
Suzanne03 - 28-Oct-17 @ 8:59 PM
I work as a chef for 24 hours a week and since its coming up to Christmas we host parties for other companies to enjoy a Christmas meal. My boss is going away whilst we have our first bookings but, My parents are away the same time and I have no one apart from myself to look after my little one and my managers are aware of this but yet still put me on the rota and are demanding that I work that weekend when they are aware that i'm a single parent and my parents are away. I need some advice on what to do thank you
yorkshiremum - 25-Oct-17 @ 4:36 PM
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