Your rights as a working parent

As a working parent, juggling childcare, back to school, and work can be difficult, and you might be concerned about managing these commitments. What happens if your child is ill and you have to take a day off, or childcare falls through and you need to pick up your child from school? Here we look at your rights as a working parent and what you are entitled to receive without compromising your career.

Time off to look after your child

If you are an employee, you are allowed to take time off for emergencies, for example, if your child is unwell and you have no childcare, or they cannot attend childcare (for example, if they have something contagious like chickenpox).

How much time off can you get?

There is no prescribed amount of how much time off you can take to deal with an emergency situation; you are allowed a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. However, if you need an extended amount of time off, more than a few hours or days, your employer may request you take the time as part of your holiday allowance or parental leave.

Will I get paid for being off?

Your employer is not obligated to pay you for this time off. It will be a contractual entitlement rather than statutory. Therefore, you should check your contract of employment to see if you are entitled to be paid.

Parental leave

Until your child turns 18, you have a right to take parental leave. This time off is generally unpaid unless you have any contractual entitlement to be paid.

In what situations can I take parental leave?

You can take parental leave to look after your child and their welfare. Such as looking after them if they are off sick from school, spending more time with them, caring for them during school holidays or settling them into new childcare arrangements.

How much parental leave am I entitled to?

Each parent can take up to 18 weeks of leave for each child that can be taken up until their 18th birthday.  You can take no longer than four weeks per year, and the time has to be taken in blocks of at least a week at a time, rather than individual days.

One thing to note is that your parental leave applies to your child, not your job. For example, if you get a new job, you do not revert back to your full parental leave entitlement, anything you have taken in your old job will remain deducted from your total 18 weeks per child.

Flexible working

All employees have a right to request flexible working. However, it may be particularly useful for working parents.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is working in a way that suits you as an employee, this might be reducing your hours to spend more time with your children, working from home or making your start and finish times more flexible to work around childcare.

Your employer must consider all flexible working requests, and they must deal with them in a ‘reasonable manner’. If they refuse the request, they must write to you and provide business reasons for declining your request. If they have declined your request can take this further to an employment tribunal, and you may wish to seek legal advice from an employment law expert.

To discuss this, or any other related matter, please contact Jane directly on 01483 887766, email or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Jane Crosby -Head of Dispute Resolution

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.