Single Parents and Working Hours

Here is a quick question:

We have been asked a question from a Dad who has just taken over full-time care of his son. His son is still at school.

This Dad starts work at 7.00am and of course was late for work this morning because he had to drop his son off at school.

The school’s breakfast club doesn’t start early enough and this Dad does not know what his employment rights are. He spoke to HR this morning – or rather they spoke to him! They advise him that he has to get permission to be late from his line manager.

His fear is that his line-manager (who in truth needs him to start at his usual time) will say “no”.

Can anyone think of a solution for him?


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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2 Responses to Single Parents and Working Hours

  1. Sarah Watts says:,10201,FP.html

    This website might be as good a place to start as any? He has the right to ask for a change in his working hours if caring for a child. They dont necessarily have to say yes of course.

  2. Jo Martin says:

    (As a quick initial point, I would be careful about the AdviceNow link posted above, as the site mentions the extension of flexible working rights to parents of up to 18 yr olds, which is not happening any more, due to the strain of the economic recovery….)

    The Dad in this situation does need to agree a permanent solution with his employer, otherwise repeated lateness could turn into a disciplinary issue, which he doesn’t want. Firstly he needs to work out a reasonable proposal to make to his boss, in what initially seems like an impossible situation. Some ideas to resolve this:-

    1 – Could a colleague cover/could a job share be arranged for the first hour of his shift?
    2 – Could the first hour of his work be done remotely (i.e. at home), with the provision of relatively inexpensive equipment?
    3 – Could he train a colleague to cover his work for the first hour?
    4 – If work and school are sufficiently close-by, is there a safe place for his child to come and join him at work for the first hour, before he drops him off and then returns to work? (This one clearly depends on the age/nature of the child!)
    5 – Could any fellow parents at the child’s school look after him in the morning and take him to school with them, in return for (perhaps) the Dad above collecting and looking after their child for an hour after school? This may mean he doesn’t have to ask his employer for any changes at all…

    Work flexibility can take an endless variety of forms, essentially consisting of whatever changes to the working day are acceptable to all concerned, so don’t be afraid to be adventurous. If the Dad concerned decides to make a request for flexible working, the procedure to follow is set out at this ACAS link: There is a set procedure and set timings to observe, and (less helpful for employees) a list of reasons the employer can use to refuse the request, which makes it easier for them to do so, but does not make refusal inevitable. A good, open discussion between employer and employee often results in a deal that suits both parties, so it is worth giving it a shot.

    Other legal points it is worth remembering (with ACAS links – should be on your Favourites list!) are that parents have the right to take emergency time off to arrange care for dependants: and the right to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave per child under 5: (both subject to conditions, unsurprisingly.)

    Lastly, if the Dad in question feels that female colleagues are more commonly allowed later starts or other work flexibility, and he is refused it, or if they are treated differently when they make similar applications, he may have a direct or indirect discrimination claim worth pursuing.

    Happy to discuss directly if needed, and can be contacted via:, 020 3206 2700, or @joemplawyer on Twitter. Good luck!

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