Part-time working myths

Last updated: 10 Mar 2021

My hours are in my contract so my employer can’t change them…

If only this were true – but even once you’ve got the hours which work for your family, unfortunately employers can and often do seek to change them.

Although this is a breach of contract if you don’t agree, in practice that isn’t a very strong argument, as your employer could simply give you notice to end that contract, and then issue you with another. Sometimes though, if there isn’t a strong business reason for the change, and you are a woman, you could argue that it is indirect sex discrimination, and can’t be justified by your employer. You’d have to think about whether they could run their business with your old hours, without losing out in some way.
Although men don’t have that argument, it might sometimes be direct sex discrimination to change your hours, if a woman doing the same or a similar job wouldn’t have been told to make the change.

Our information on changes to your hours gives more advice.
I have the right to work part-time when I come back from maternity leave….

This is not true. Unfortunately no one has the ‘right’ to work part-time. Everyone, if they have been employed for at least 26 weeks, has the right to ask for part-time work, but if your employer has business reasons why this will not work for them, they can say no.

Although we encourage parents to negotiate with their employers to begin with, if you are having difficulty then it is a good idea to use the government flexible working application form, which you can find on This ensures that you are covered by the law. You can find out more about the right to request here.

If you are not convinced by the business reasons given by your employer, it’s worth contacting Working Families to discuss it further.

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

Advice contact form

Watch our new film to find out more about your right to request flexible working.

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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.