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If you’re struggling to get time away from work

Finding a good work-life balance is never easy. But sometimes dropping the kids off at school, or getting time away to care for family members, is more difficult than it should be - especially if your boss won’t let you take the time that you need. If you’ve been told you can’t work flexible hours, or if you’ve been disciplined for taking leave, you may be left wondering what your options are. 

You may have a legal right to ask for time off

If you want to work flexible hours, in some circumstances you can make a request under a statutory scheme. Your employer has to consider your request, and you have protection under the law if they treat you unfairly. In some emergencies you have a legal right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off – like if a dependant relative has an accident, or you need to look after your children at short notice. 

If your employer is being unreasonable, you might be eligible to make a claim at an employment tribunal. The deadline for issuing a claim is short (generally speaking it is within three months less one day from the date of refusal, detriment or dismissal), so it’s essential you act quickly.  Before starting a claim you would first need to go through Acas early conciliation.

How we can help

We can advise on your eligibility to make statutory flexible working requests and to take dependants leave. We’ll explain how your employer should deal with these situations. If your employer refuses your request, we can guide you on the best way to complain. And if you’re treated unfairly or dismissed for making a request, we can advise you on the protections you have under the law. We’ll:

  • listen to what’s happened
  • guide you on your rights
  • advise on what you can do next 
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Meet your experts
Duncan Snook Sq Duncan Snook Duncan joined Which? Legal as an employment law specialist in May 2018. He has over 10 years of experience as an employment solicitor in private practice. See profile
Brendan Donohue Sq Brendan Donohue Brendan joined Which? in 2018 and is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association. He has over 20 years of experience advising on all aspects of employment law. See profile
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