Is there a right to work part time?

Is it your new year's resolution to reduce your hours?

Last updated: 18 Nov 2021

Many parents would like to work part time, especially after having a baby or returning to work from family leave. Some employers are happy to negotiate part time working.

Unfortunately there is right to change your working hours to part time. But you may have a right to request flexible working, that you can use to request to work part time.

If you are an employee with 26 weeks’ service with your employer, and you follow the rules you can make a statutory flexible working request. This can be to change your hours, start/finish times or to work for home. 

Your employer doesn’t have to agree to your request, but they must consider it.  They can only turn down the request for one of the ‘permitted business reasons’.  They must respond to a request within three months.

Anyone can negotiate a change to their working pattern with their employer at any time, but you can only put in one statutory request every 12 months.

If your employer doesn’t consider your request, or fails to give you one of the legal reasons for turning it down, seek more advice. If you are a woman with childcare responsibilities who needs to work part time for caring reasons, then you may be able to claim indirect sex discrimination if your employer can’t justify their decision. If you are a father who is treated differently from a mother in the workplace, that might be direct sex discrimination. 

We have lots of advice and information on our website to help you negotiate a flexible working option that works for you and for your employer.

If your employer has refused your request, see our article on what to do if your flexible working request is refused.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.

We cannot provide advice on employment rights in Northern Ireland as the law is different. You can visit the Labour Relations Agency or call their helpline Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300.