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Working Rights of Single Parents

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Oct 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Bec- Your Question:
Hi, I'm a single mother who struggles with child care. I work 16 hours a week, signed my new contract. However they have no brought out a new sickness policy stating we will be on call. And the company will give 2 hours notice before we start work. Is this enough time for a single mother to get childcare? Any laws on this in which you could direct me to?

Our Response:
By signing the contract, you will agree to the new terms. Therefore, if it is not feasible for you to work to this new arrangement, you would have to speak to your employer directly regarding this and try to negotiate around your situation.
WorkingRights - 20-Oct-17 @ 2:34 PM
Hi, I'm a single mother who struggles with child care. I work 16 hours a week, signed my new contract. However they have no brought out a new sickness policy stating we will be on call. And the company will give 2 hours notice before we start work. Is this enough time for a single mother to get childcare? Any laws on this in which you could direct me to?
Bec - 19-Oct-17 @ 9:02 PM
Meme - Your Question:
So my daughter works at a place she has been getting 34 hour a week she is a single parent. Last week she was sick vomiting call in and was told by her manger thst they could not cover her shift so she went in she was in a lot of pain and after 9 was taken to the hospital by ambulance they at the hospital told her they wanted her out for a week but she begged them to only be out for a day so they ended up giving her a note to be out for 2 days after the two days she went back to work and now she looks at her schedule today and they knocked her down to 24 hours being a single parent

Our Response:
Much depends upon the contract your daughter is on. If she is on a zero-hours contract, then her employer is within its rights to change her hours. If she is on a permanent fixed hours contract, unless there is a clause in the contract to say her employer can change her working hours, then her employer cannot do this. Your daughter would have to read her employment contract or employee handbook to find this out.
WorkingRights - 16-Oct-17 @ 2:50 PM
So my daughter works at a place she has been getting 34 hour a week she is a single parent. Last week she was sick vomiting call in and was told by her manger thst they could not cover her shift so she went in she was in a lot of pain and after 9 was taken to the hospital by ambulance they at the hospital told her they wanted her out for a week but she begged them to only be out for a day so they ended up giving her a note to be out for 2 days after the two days she went back to work and now she looks at her schedule today and they knocked her down to 24 hours being a single parent
Meme - 14-Oct-17 @ 7:59 PM
Mene - Your Question:
I just about to start a new job but my old boss keeps putting my mum who has my kids in on days I need to work ok So said to new boss I can do every other sun but seemed to or pushing me do every sun but I have my kids to fit in to I really don't want to beg for old job bk but I don't know want to do

Our Response:
It's a little difficult to understand your question. I'm assuming your mum and you work at the same place and the hours you both work are clashing, meaning your mum cannot look after your kids. The only way around this is to speak to your boss directly and explain to him/her your predicament and see if you can negotiate a way around it. You may also wish to read the terms of your contract which will specify the days you need to work. I'm afraid this is something you can only do through negotiation with your boss directly in order to reach any satisfactory conclusion.
WorkingRights - 13-Oct-17 @ 10:32 AM
I just about to start a new job but my old boss keeps putting my mum who has my kids in on days I need to work ok So said to new boss I can do every other sun but seemed to or pushing me do every sun but I have my kids to fit in to I really don't want to beg for old job bk but I don't know want to do
Mene - 10-Oct-17 @ 2:30 PM
Hi, i'm a single mom working 16 hrs week, when i started my job 2 yrs ago i stated to my Area manager the latest i can work till is 6 pm .But now they have changed my hours so i now have to work until 7 pm ,(this has not been given to us in writing) i have spoken to my area manager about this and also filled out an availability form stating the latest i can work, but they have taken no notice of this.. my work contract states that my hours of work are variable and it a matter between myself and my supervisor whether it should be morning or afternoon and i can arrange these times with my supervisor to suit my own convenience.. my supervisor will not work the afternoon shift.. where do i stand with this please
kaz - 25-Aug-17 @ 4:52 PM
Looking advice I'm a single parent and my circumstances have changed that I cannot work weekends or nights due to not having anyone ro look after my little one. I haven't worked nights in over two years and had a change in my contract to say this. A change in management has seen the new manager practically say I don't have a job anymore. I've been with this company for over 10 years. Thank you
Jack8778 - 7-Jun-17 @ 6:30 PM
My 15 year old daughter needs a tibial osteomy (both legs breaking followed by 8 weeks in pot and loads of physio) My employer is already saying I need to take time off as a mix of annual leave and unpaid parental leave. As a single parent I simply can't afford to be paid absolutely nothing for weeks in end but equally I can't leave her home alone for 8 hours a day bedridden! Please help
Melanie Atkinson - 16-Apr-17 @ 10:29 PM
Hello I've been with my company for 13 years I currently have a felxi working request in place! They have recently brought in a new rule regarding sickness if you go below a certain percent or have 3 occasions off sick in 26 weeks you get investigated and verbal, written,final warning etc, but where do I stand if these sicknesses are due to my child being unwell and unable to attend school an I have no childcare for him?
Beck. - 17-Feb-17 @ 6:00 PM
I'm a single mum in the middle of my dental nursing qualification. My previous employer closed his practice so Im in the process of negotiating a new job in another practice. We've agreed 16hrs however they are insisting that in the staff handbook it says I need to be available at short notice to cover sickness. The practice is already approx 15 miles away from home and nursery. And in order to do the job I have to rely on my ex partner to collect my son from nursery. I don't know how I can be expected to recieve a call possibly 7 am and find childcare. I claim working Tax Aswell so if I do over the hours I've declared then there's consequences left right and centre. Where do I stand if this happens? Thanks
Kacy - 17-Feb-17 @ 5:59 PM
ANY ADVICE WOULD BE APPRECIATED I told my employer 3 days ago that I wouldn't be able to attend work today due to having my children and I covered my shift with a fellow employee. And they have now contacted me saying why are are you not in work . And they have told me they will put me down as a.w.o.l are they with in there rights to do that . Or am I with in my rights as a single parent .
Ste118 - 16-Feb-17 @ 5:27 PM
I told my employer 3 days ago that I wouldn't be able to attend work today due to having my children and I covered my shift with a fellow employee. And they have now contacted me saying why are are you not in work . And they have told me they will put me down as a.w.o.l are they with in there rights to do that . Or am I with in my rights as a single parent .
Ste118 - 16-Feb-17 @ 5:24 PM
Bec - Your Question:
Ive been working in a hotel now for 1 and a half years im a single parent to a 6 year old, since being at this job ive always worked weekend in weekend off (this isnt in my contract tho) and now they are changing it to me working every weekend is this aloud?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you agree to the new contract terms and sign the contract. If you do not wish to work the new hours, then it is up to you to try and negotiate the terms with your employer directly. See also Flexible Working link by gov.uk here.
WorkingRights - 16-Jan-17 @ 2:22 PM
Ive been working in a hotel now for 1 and a half years im a single parent to a 6 year old, since being at this job ive always worked weekend in weekend off (this isnt in my contract tho) and now they are changing it to me working every weekend is this aloud?
Bec - 13-Jan-17 @ 4:52 PM
Sammi - Your Question:
I have worked 16 hrs cleaning from 9am to 1pm for over 5 years due to childcare issues and now my boss wants me to do 10am to 2pm. And I can't do this time. I've informed them of this and they said either do it or find a new job. Any help would be grateful

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms and the type of your contract. You would be advised to read this in order to find out what rights both you and your employer have with regards to any changes in hours. If your contract has a clause to say your employer can change your hours, then they may be able to. However, you may have rights regarding your possible dismissal and if your contract does not give you the answer, you may wish to give ACAS a call.
WorkingRights - 10-Jan-17 @ 2:00 PM
I have worked 16 hrs cleaning from 9am to 1pm for over 5 years due to childcare issues and now my boss wants me to do 10am to 2pm. And I can't do this time. I've informed them of this and they said either do it or find a new job. Any help would be grateful
Sammi - 9-Jan-17 @ 8:09 PM
Zara - Your Question:
Hello ! I'm working in a Turkish restaurant from 1 year and 3 Month. Yesterday the manager told me that Sunday will be my last day in the company without giving me any information about why hi fire me. I'm a 48 years old , single mother of a 9 years old son. It is legal to fire me just because they don't like my face after 1 and a half year ?

Our Response:
If you are working in a Turkish restaurant in Turkey, I'm afraid we cannot answer your question as we are a UK-based website with knowledge only of UK-based employment law. However, if you are based in the UK and you are working PAYE, then you may have a case for unfair dismissal, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 20-Dec-16 @ 1:47 PM
Hello ! I'm working in a Turkish restaurant from 1 year and 3 Month. Yesterday the manager told me that Sunday will be my last day in the company without giving me any information about why hi fire me. I'm a 48 years old , single mother of a 9 years old son. It is legal to fire me just because they don't like my face after 1 and a half year ?
Zara - 20-Dec-16 @ 12:26 AM
Ellee - Your Question:
I've been working p/t for 5 years in the same company. I was on zero hours until July this year. My question is I've worked Saturdays every Saturday for 5yrs. I have to produce a time sheet every week. Only two of us work the saturday every week. We get no additional holidays and we have to wait a month in arrears for the Saturday pay. Our contracted hours are 15 but I work 18 every week at a flat rate. Should my contract read 18 hours rather than 15. I have to get authorised permission to take that Saturday off. I can't just say I'm not working this Saturday.

Our Response:
You would have to discuss the reasons why Saturday is not included in your contract directly with your employer, given that you are obliged to work these extra hours every week. If you feel that you want this to be part of your contract and if your employer does not listen to your reasoning or passes it off, then you would have the option to raise a grievance, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 16-Dec-16 @ 11:15 AM
I've been working p/t for 5 years in the same company. I was on zero hours until July this year. My question is I've worked Saturdays every Saturday for 5yrs. I have to produce a time sheet every week. Only two of us work the saturday every week. We get no additional holidays and we have to wait a month in arrears for the Saturday pay. Our contracted hours are 15 but I work 18 every week at a flat rate. Should my contract read 18 hours rather than 15. I have to get authorised permission to take that Saturday off. I can't just say I'm not working this Saturday...
Ellee - 15-Dec-16 @ 7:15 PM
Mel - Your Question:
Please clarify to me the law relating to employers appointing lone parents. Is there a law that all employers must provide flexible hours to lone parents. Before commencement of employment, Taking into account the new benefit cap, with thousands of lone parents being affected if they don't find work, I'm confused as to what legislation has been put in place to enable lone parents to work. It is not easy finding an employer who is understanding of the issues faced by lone parents, childcare places are limited and it's very difficult to arrange for a child care setting to take and collect children from their statutory education establishment. Breakfast clubs and after school clubs are always booked up. Do you believe every employer should provide working hours to suit school times.

Our Response:
I can only direct you to the gov.uk site on flexible working here. While employers are obliged to consider flexible working patterns, each employer decides this on an individual case-by-case basis, meaning there are no set rules. It is always good to get an agreement with an employer before a person starts the job. The gov.uk site here may also help. We cannot answer your question on whether we have an opinion, as it's the government makes the rules, regardless of whether we agree and/or disagree with particular policies put forward.
WorkingRights - 8-Nov-16 @ 11:59 AM
Please clarify to me the law relating to employers appointing lone parents. Is there a law that all employers must provide flexible hours to lone parents. Before commencement of employment, Taking into account the new benefit cap, with thousands of lone parents being affected if they don't find work, I'm confused as to what legislation has been put in place to enable lone parents to work. It is not easy finding an employer who is understanding of the issues faced by lone parents, childcare places are limited and it's very difficult to arrange for a child care settingto take and collect children from theirstatutory education establishment. Breakfast clubs and after school clubs are always booked up. Do you believe every employer should provide working hours to suit school times.
Mel - 7-Nov-16 @ 7:39 PM
Neens - Your Question:
Hi I am a single mother, I have just started a new job as a PA (approx 6 weeks in) the managing director of the company and 'right hand man' to my principle came into my office yesterday, closing the door behind hime to tell me that the company have looked me up on Facebook and have seen that I have a child and that I am a single parent (my page is private, so they have correctly presumed this through my profile pictures of just me and my daughter) he proceeded to tell me that my boss will not like this and that we will have to see what will happen when he finds out. referring to whether I will still be employed or not.Where do I stand here? I feel that the conversation was totally out of order and now I am very uncomfortable here.

Our Response:
Even though you are on probation, you are protected from discrimination at work under the Equality Act 2010. It means there is no qualifying period of employment for a discrimination claim to an Employment Tribunal. In this case, I suggest you give ACAS a call in order to further explore your options and rights.
WorkingRights - 28-Oct-16 @ 2:34 PM
Hi I am a single mother, i have just started a new job as a PA (approx 6 weeks in) the managing director of the company and 'right hand man' to my principle came into my office yesterday, closing the door behind hime to tell me that the company have looked me up on Facebook and have seen that i have a child and that i am a single parent (my page is private, so they have correctly presumed this through my profile pictures of just me and my daughter) he proceeded to tell me that my boss will not like this and that we will have to see what will happen when he finds out. referring to whether i will still be employed or not. Where do I stand here? I feel that the conversation was totally out of order and now i am very uncomfortable here.
Neens - 27-Oct-16 @ 2:10 PM
Lel - Your Question:
I recently have started a new job and I am still in the process of training however I was told in my interview I can do set days set shifts but now that I've handed in my notice at my work and started the training I have been told I have to work every 2nd weekend however this will conflict with my family life and won't work for childcare as it wasn't stated in my interview and I haven't signed a contract do I ha e to work weekends especially as it's nightshirt I will be working?

Our Response:
If you have not signed a contract there is little you can do apart from either speak to your employer directly and/or request flexible working, please see link here due to your situation.
WorkingRights - 6-Sep-16 @ 11:53 AM
I recently have started a new job and I am still in the process of training however I was told in my interview I can do set days set shifts but now that I've handed in my notice at my work and started the training I have been told I have to work every 2nd weekend however this will conflict with my family life and won't work for childcare as it wasn't stated in my interview and I haven't signed a contract do I ha e to work weekends especially as it's nightshirt I will be working?
Lel - 5-Sep-16 @ 2:53 PM
Hi there, single working mum here! I started work with a nursery last November.The job advertisement was Monday to Friday 10 till 2. At the interview they asked if I'dbe willing to do more hours I said yes.I have been doing 30 hours a week for months. My employer has just informed me that I have to do five full days now. When I said I could not, I was asked to hand in my notice so they could advertise my job! Can they do this?
mi-mi - 3-Sep-16 @ 2:35 PM
Jo - Your Question:
I need some advice please! I am a single mum and have worked for my employer for nearly 4 years. I have recently handed in my notice and found another job as they will not renew my flexible working claim. They know I can't work evenings or weekends yet they have already change my hours without discussing it with me. I have 2 weeks left of my notice, is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
You can see all you need to know via the gov.uk link here regarding your employer's approach and your rights.
WorkingRights - 25-Aug-16 @ 11:49 AM
I need some advice please! I am a single mum and have worked for my employer for nearly 4 years. I have recently handed in my notice and found another job as they will not renew my flexible working claim. They know I can't work evenings or weekends yet they have already change my hours without discussing it with me. I have 2 weeks left of my notice, is there anything I can do?
Jo - 24-Aug-16 @ 6:52 PM
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