Home > Employment Issues > Working Rights of Single Parents

Working Rights of Single Parents

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Sep 2021 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi there, I am working from home as a contact advisor for Track and Trace since January 2021. Also I went through a marriage breakdown and was abandoned by my husband as of start of lockdown March 2020 in Wales. Being a single mother of 3 children 11 and under with no family (except his parents, but yeah, I get no support there). So due to my kids having sick days and no one else to care for them as their father works away a lot, I had to subsequently take leave myself to care for them. I had 2 sick days for myself exclusively due to picking up a tummy bug from their initial sickness. Now my team leader have told me if I have another sick day I will be sacked. This was said end of July / beginning of August. It put a lot of extra stress on me on top of my situation as well as a very demanding job. Now, I felt extremely unwell this past Saturday (first time after my warning). I had a severe migraine attack starting since I woke up for my 8am-4pm shift. I really tried my best to deal with it and managed to work or hold out till 12pm (lunch time). When I just couldn't anymore as the computer screen and constantly calling people on a headset, made it so much worse, I called the Team leader on shift (not my Team leader) and explained. She was very understanding being a migraine sufferer herself. So she told me to sign off and if I still feel unwell the next morning to call our Staff line and report taking off. The next morning I was still feeling too unwell to work, so called in sick. Now on top of it all my eldest daughter tested positive for Covid and I have ordered a home test for myself too as feeling unwell. Now I know tomorrow with my 12-8pm shift I will be called by my Team Leader and she will grill me over my sick time off. I feel that this is so unfair to judge me the same as an employee with no kids as obviously their work attendance are never affected my children due to parental responsibilities. Please please advise me of what I can say or what my rights are. I feel as if I'm being discriminated against as I am a single parent. Also have to add that my work performance is excellent, as said to me numerous times by my Team Leaderand management. If I lose my job I will be totally broken, as I suffer from severe anxiety and depression (medicated by my GP) and this would have a detrimental affect on my mental wellbeing.
MumofThree - 19-Sep-21 @ 10:22 PM
Hi I’m single parent working full time. I have been working for 3 years with company. I struggle with childcare and found it no one to do very late hours. My managers sead that they can arrange something for a month and send me to citizen advice bureau to help me fight with dad of my son. I don’t want to do this. All I want is flexible working hours so I can actually do my job. They seas the need to be far to everyone and they cannot help me with this.
Babs - 16-Sep-21 @ 10:57 AM
Hello. I work in a private care home. Next week will bring people out of the hospital with positiv COVID. Do I have to go work with those patients? I am a single mother.
agresyv - 26-Jan-21 @ 5:33 PM
A work colleague has being sacked during Christmas of this year.She is a single mum of four kids.Unfortunately I do not know circumstances of her being fired. She worked in a nursing home as a night carer.As far as I am aware she was fired following an argument with another carer. Can you advice please.
Ree - 28-Dec-20 @ 4:27 PM
Hi I have been rotad until 11pm on evening of which I can only get childcare until 10pm. I notified my manager 3 weeks prior to this shift with 2 colleagues offering to cover along with myself offering to take hours unpaid so the company is at no loss. This has been refused and has now been almost threatened with moving stores of which i have no car so is not possible. I cannot work until 11 so of i leave at 10 i face awol disciplinary. I have no
Vicky - 10-Dec-20 @ 3:57 PM
Hi I’m a single parent working 16 hrs a week in the care sector I’ve just been given my rota and I’ve been given Christmas Day ! Despite giving my company 3 shifts I could do over the Christmas period I’ve still been given Christmas Day I’m just wondering if I have any legal ground . I’ve called my manager who said it’s my responsibility to cover my shift ( well no ones going to cover Xmas day are they ) if I call in sick I’ll face disciplinary action apparently !! I have worked Christmas Eve , New Year’s Eve , New Year’s Day in the past and never complained but Christmas Day really !! Please help
Laura - 21-Nov-20 @ 8:13 PM
Hi, I’m going through a relationship breakdown and now I had to move out with my 5 year old son. I’ve been employed full time in a delivery store since March and during this current situation with the virus I had to request different patterns to work so I can take care of my son and company agreed. Since I became a single mum I made a statutory request to allowed me to work just mornings and only during the week so I can take care of him. The only person who came back to me was my general manager saying that is not possible as I not an office job and being a shift manager I need to be fully flexible. Now I found out though I phone call that next week I will be made team member and that my hours will be reduced to 30 per week instead of 40h, without explaining me the reasons that the business assessed resulting in not being a viable option . I find myself being discriminated for being a single parent and in the same time being bullied by my general manager.There is something I can do because having my hours cutting is very stressful when you are a single parent with bills and childcare and without any other help. Please can someone advise what to do. Thank you
Lily - 8-Nov-20 @ 10:17 AM
I am a single father who in February my son has been living with me. I am struggling to find childcare over the Christmas period and have applied for the one week as annual leave. To which my manger has not agreed or accepted. The reply I get is I will be bring out the Christmas Rota and will try my best to for fill everts wishes. I have stated that I’m struggling for childcare on this week and to prevent myself adding stress on myself I’ve asked for holiday. I’ve have asked for this 2 months before Christmas. What more can I do as like I’ve stated to them I am unable to work that week due to no childcare
Jeffs555 - 24-Oct-20 @ 1:37 PM
Im a lone parent as oppsed to a single parent. I have 2 children with SEND. For last 14 years ive worked on and off jobs that fit around children but have found most employers want full time hours. I want to now get a career as opposed to.a job amd am looking at the fire service or police. Am i allowed to ask for day working so i can be at home in the night times? Im finding most jobs want shift work and that isnt an option for me. I am a 44 year old woman and i cannot bear the thought of being in an office all day.
Anna - 26-Jun-20 @ 11:31 AM
Hi I’m a single dad and currently work part time 9:30 till 1:30 Monday to Thursday and need to take my child to school and collect from school each day .My employers are saying I must start to do 4 till 8 one day a week but I have no child care. I’ve worked 16 years at the same place , can you explain my rights as I’ve been told I must do it or leave.
Stu - 29-Jan-20 @ 2:46 PM
Hi, I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant with my second child. My first is 10. I’m currently and will remain a single parent. I work shift patterns involving 2-3 nights (3:30-10) Do I have a right to ask to work day shifts as a single parent as childcare is very expensive for evenings and am concerned about my finances as a single parent of 2 children
JJ - 25-Jan-20 @ 10:02 PM
Hi I'd like some advice please I'm a single parent I work full time currently going thru divorce, own own house have solicitor ex done a runner and will not reveal location to solicitor or social services. So far I've managed to set up child tax c.s.a from my ex who seldom pays and is to an extent in arrears I'm managing my finances and have been left in some bad issues I'm an abused husband have a sick note for acute anxiety. Currently juggling work and trying to sort out relationship with new lady. What rights do I have to asking work about manipulation of rota and emergency time off if required?
Roadhog167 - 24-Jan-20 @ 5:48 PM
As I work 16 hours part time and I am a single mother. My employer has said I need to work Christmas or new year and I am struggling to find care for my child? What will happen if I cannot work any of these
Melissaj93 - 2-Dec-19 @ 12:16 PM
I need advice ,my son recently turned 16,and is in his final year at school ,but the company I work for wants me to lodge away monday to friday,and wont let me travel it,any advice given would be more than appreciated
Help - 23-Nov-19 @ 9:34 AM
Hi I need advice,my son recently turned 16 and is in his final year at school,the company i work for wants me to work away from monday morning ,until late friday night every week,I have asked to be put some where else for the time being ,but they have refused,as being a single sole parent to my son is there anything I can do or am I being over protective,advice needed please ,I dont mind leaving him over night,but working away at the moment is a bit extreme
No rush - 23-Nov-19 @ 9:32 AM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments