Family-friendly rights for employees are intended to make sure workers with children are able to continue with their employment without having additional problems because of their family obligations.

Employees have a number of fundamental family-friendly rights in the workplace. These include the right to:

  • maternity leave
  • paternity leave
  • adoption leave.

Shared parental leave is available to parents of children due on or after 5 April 2015, and adopters where the child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. Ordinary parental leave is a type of unpaid leave that can be taken until the child’s 18th birthday.


From 30 June 2015, the right to request flexible working was extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ qualifying service, as part of family-friendly rights of an employee. Prior to this date, it was available to parents of young children and carers. All employees are also entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off work “to take action which is necessary” in relation to the care of certain dependants.

Flexible working can include:

  • working part-time
  • job sharing
  • shift working
  • working school hours
  • staggering your time
  • working from home.

Although you have the right to ask your employer for flexible working arrangements, they also have the right to refuse – but they can only do that after considering your case carefully and giving you a good business reason for not offering you flexible working. You can appeal the decision but at the end of the day the employer retains the right to refuse a request.


If your employer refuses a request for flexible working, speak to us. As employee law consultants offering guidance for employee family-friendly rights, we will be able to advise you on your next steps.


The law on these matters can often be technical and confusing. Whether the question is one of what entitlements an expectant mother has in respect of ante-natal care or whether you have a query relating to what leave an employee may take where they are required to care for their children, we at A C Employment Solicitors can advise on:

  • An employee’s rights when she falls pregnant
  • An employee’s entitlement to maternity leave and maternity pay and the other obligations an employer has with regards to maternity leave
  • Paternity rights, including rights to paternity leave and pay
  • The rights of an employee and obligations of an employer where the employee is planning to adopt a child
  • The procedures to be followed where an employee makes a request for flexible working
  • The other rights that an employee may have in respect of their family and childcare responsibilities, including entitlement to parental leave and the requirements for any emergency leave required to deal with dependents.

These areas can often throw up difficult questions, which can lead to disputes arising between an employer and the employee. If you require any assistance or guidance on any family friendly issues which have arisen in the workplace then please contact us.


The majority of employers reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave and they agreed that statutory rights relating to pregnancy and maternity are reasonable and easy to implement. However, research commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2016 found:

“Around one in nine mothers (11%) reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 54,000 mothers a year. One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 100,000 mothers a year. 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments; if scaled up to the general population this could mean up to 53,000 mothers a year.”


Then speak to us today for a no cost, no obligation discussion on your needs