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Working Rights of Single Parents

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 13 Nov 2019 | 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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Hi there, I have been working for my care company for the past four years. I have recently became a single parent. My ex only has the kids one day on a Sunday for a few hours. I have asked my employer for time off over Xmas as the nursery is shut 20th - 6th Jan. I have offered to work more shifts prior to Xmas and after the 6th and I did work May bank holiday however the kids dad has now states traveling 1.5 hours more than once a week is too much...my mum has a health condition and my dad is 70 with health issues. My ex partners parents don’t really help as one lives an hour away and the other works two jobs but has offered to try and help if we can fit it in. I put my holidays in in October but was told today they can’t be authorised until the service has full cover. What can I do? My son has suspected ASD so finding a child minded this late he will be settled with will be very difficult. Can I be sacked if I put parental leave in? Thanks x
Boo - 13-Nov-19 @ 1:35 AM
Hi I am a single mum of three kids one has disabilities. I currently work 35 hours a week but not coping and want to reduce my hours but have a mortgage to pay plus bills. What advise can you give me please. Many thanks
Amy - 12-Nov-19 @ 5:13 PM
Hello i am single mother, my daughter is 6 years old. I am struggle with many priblems. I was ask my employee for changing working hpurs from 8-6 to 9-3 but they say no to me. I dont have any meeting where i can explain my situation. I have self contained position which is making easy for my employer to change my hours. I want to know if i can do anything about problem with my hours.
Sylwia - 24-Sep-19 @ 12:15 PM
Hello I’m a single parent to a 8 month old baby currently on maternity leave but I’m due back at work on the 30th of August I have absolutely no support parents are both dead and a ex partner who’s not interested I can’t even afford childcare surviving on my maternity pay I don’t no what to do need to work but at the same time can’t Even afford the first payment for childcare to get started on universal credit support honestly don’t no what to do feel trapped
Snazz21 - 8-Aug-19 @ 10:05 PM
Hi,I am single mum with two under 16 kids. I am working part time ,20 and half hours a week.I am facing issues at work for annual holidays and flexibility in swapping my day .Its depressing working there as I am been given warning letter on my one sick leave in months ,I been warned by manager that on sick leave, I am not allowed to our for any reason. One of my colleague followed me in Asda when in the after noon ,I went to buy something really needed.I always been very punctual, even from last year , I got 4 days still left from my annual holidays. I am last one, who ,afterlots of humiliation get holidays .Last time when I wanted to ask ,whether my holidays are approved or not ,it took three weeks nearly ,everyone got it ,only my one being left to be approved.When I got the approval letter,it was issued on 12th of May but hand over to me on 29th of May,leaving me into constant stress ,would Ineill get holidays or not .This norm ,I am facing more than one year.Lots of other issues at work .I am really depressed, I have to beg for little little geniune favours .I decided to resign What step should I take , so others shouldnt go through as I went and still going through.Thanks Kind Regards
Soniya - 19-Jun-19 @ 6:59 PM
Looking for some advice am a single parent to a 19month old girl; I have worked for my current employer for over 10 years and in my current post for 9 years. I returned to work following my maternity leave with a view of temporarily trying part time working I did this for what will now to 6 months. At my review at the 3month mark I advise that after the 6 months I would like to return to full time but would have an issue with childcare for 3 days in the first 3 weeks (1day a week) as my mother was on a surprise holiday. I got verbal agreement from my then line manager that was fine and they would accommodate that although it couldn’t be put on the system as they currently weren’t my working days. Now fast forward to the week before this new arrangement starts and the management of my annual leave is going to another person although my precious manager still runs the service. This new manager is now saying I can’t have the 3 days I can have 2 but not free and need to find a paid Carer to watch my child for that day. My daughter goes to nursery already 3 days which I pay for but the nursery can’t take her a extra day that week as there is no space and I don’t have any other support. My union has advised evoking the special leave policy on this day in the morning but I feel that is worse and as they know I don’t gave childcare will just refuse it. Can you offer any additional advice as am stressing out about this and can’t sleep or eat for worrying
Chelle - 29-May-19 @ 9:02 PM
I would like some advice. The father of my two children works full time and says he can't have the kids over night cos of his shifts, is he entitled to flexi working even tho the children live with me??
JustMe - 18-Feb-19 @ 4:28 PM
Hi ive been working for my employer for nearly 4 years, I've recently become a single mum to a 6 year old, I.currently work 24 hours over 4 days and my hours are 7 till 1 I'm wanting to start later so I can take my little boy to school as struggling for childcare early in the morning bit work aren't supporting me. Is there anything I can do pls
Looby - 4-Jan-19 @ 6:32 PM
Good morning, When l started my job inNovember 2016,l asked them for flexible hours which they honoured but sometimes l keep getting asked if l can stay a longer or my Rota being changed regardless of them knowing my circumstances as a single parent and whenever l can help, l do help but l think they are taking advantage of me. Yesterday we were told around 3pm that our closing time is going to change from yesterday 20.11.18 without any NOTICE and we will now be workingfrom 930 -730pm instead of 930- 630pm as from when the email was sent and l find this as a major inconvenience as this means l will be missing doingmy 13year old son's homeworkwhen l get home as well as his bedtime as he goes to bed at 8pm during the week as he plays 3 sports Rugby, Hockey and also his Winter Cricket training sessions during the week . What is the best solution for me with regards to this issue? I feel like they are not honouring their word to me when l joined the company. Some colleagues have similar arrangements and they are not being hustled as me and l am now seeing this as workplace bullying. Also our Head Office has a tendency of sending emails sometimes about RANDOM store events a day before the event or on the day and we are told it starts at 7pm-8pm or 9pm ... with aguest list of 18. The last 2 months we had 2 events the first one only 2 guests turned up out of the 18 and the 2nd event 8 people came out of the said 18 & of on both occasions these so called VIP guests didn't buy anything but came to eat, drink and get goodie bags which is very frustrating for the team as we have to stay behind and tidy up the shopfloor and we end up leaving around 10pmand they don't even want to pay us but gives us time and when you ask to take it...its a problem for us and this is not right at all. Please HELP !
Tiny - 21-Nov-18 @ 8:38 AM
I amsingle mum to a little girl with special needs. I am het registered carer and work 10 hours a week in a school. My daughter attends a special needs school amd as such has much more holidy than state school. I am short of childcare each half term amd have no childcare. I cant claim any help ad I dont work enough hours. I have no support as Dad has just walked away and nit interested. If I ever try to have a conversation with h8m he is just abusive to me. I just wing it ever half term and am so fed up as this stress all the time. If I wok mor than 10 hours I lose my carers allowance so I CANT WIN..
nnn - 11-Nov-18 @ 8:30 PM
What are the rules around single parents working from home? On a couple of occasions I have had childcare issues and asked if I can work from home only to be told no because I am a SINGLE mum! I feel this to be discriminatory as if I was in a relationship with the father I wouldn't have childcare issues. My daughter is 16months old.
Cb84 - 11-Nov-18 @ 8:24 PM
Asking for a friend. Single parent of 3, father a guest of her majesty. She is a carerand has been forced to work xmas day. Anyone know the laws surrounding this?
Nat - 14-Oct-18 @ 6:46 PM
Bt - Your Question:
Been working at same factory now for 23 years , recently divorced and now son lives with me, does not see his mum very much and now my workplace want me to do 12 hour night shifts. Have asked for flexible working ( carry on doing 8 hour night shifts )as only certain machines are required to work the new shifts but have been turned down. I now have a appeal hearing but I think that work is just going through the motions.

Our Response:
In this case, you may wish to give Acas a call to see what your options are. Only if you are dismissed as a result, may you be able to claim unfair dismissal, please see the link here .
WorkingRights - 11-Sep-18 @ 10:21 AM
Been working at same factory now for 23 years , recently divorced and now son lives with me, does not see his mum very much and now my workplace want me to do 12 hour night shifts . Have asked for flexible working ( carry on doing 8 hour night shifts )as only certain machines are required to work the new shiftsbut have been turned down . I now have a appeal hearing but I think that work is just going through the motions .
Bt - 10-Sep-18 @ 8:27 AM
Hi I am single parent and I had worked always full time hours Now my situation will change because I don’t have no one to drop my 9 daughter to school from September I have been working with that company about 1 year I can asked my employee for different hours time is that right? Or they can’t give me a chance to
Took - 19-Aug-18 @ 2:54 PM
Hi am a single parent. My hours if work are 16 hours split between two days . in between . 9.15 am till 9pm. Which has been fine for years . now all of a sudden . the boss wants me to work latest .as in . 11pm finish . which I carnt do as carnt get childcare that late .basically saying . if I carnt do these shifts I won't have a job . as the hours I was doing do not exist any more . what can I do
Hels - 7-Aug-18 @ 1:33 PM
Bennnn- Your Question:
I'm a full time dad doing nearly 40 hours a week but am now trying to get down to 24 hours a week instead. Can they stop me from lowering my hours at all and if so how quickly can I drop my hours

Our Response:
You cannot be stopped for lowering your hours. You would have to discuss this directly with your employer.
WorkingRights - 23-Jul-18 @ 1:56 PM
I'm a full time dad doing nearly 40 hours a week but am now trying to get down to 24 hours a week instead. Can they stop me from lowering my hours at all and if so how quickly can I drop my hours
Bennnn - 22-Jul-18 @ 3:52 PM
@Andi68 - I'm sure she wouldn't stop such an arrangement. Flexible working is part of most establishments now. If she stopped it, you could raise a grievance. I'd cross that bridge if you come to it, so to speak. There's nothing you can do beforehand.
TashB - 10-Jul-18 @ 3:12 PM
Hi can you please advise. I work Ina small school (pru) I've been there 16 years.I got special guardianship of my little girl when she was 2.5 she's now 9 . My present boss has been great an let me leave work at 3 each day to get her , but we are getting a new person overseeing our ks . Shes not really people friendly and I'm worried she'll stop me being allowed to do that which means my 9 year old will have to walk over a mile to my workplace, past fields and under a bridge to get to me even ondark winter nights . I'm a single parent so haven't got another option. What are my rights as a parent in this situation.
Andi68 - 8-Jul-18 @ 10:49 PM
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
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
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
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
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