Many women wish to return to work on part time or flexible hours after maternity leave. We have information about your rights to flexible work in our Flexible Working section , including a step by step guide to choosing a new work pattern.
It is important to allow lots of time for any request to change your hours, your employer may take up to three months to decide and it might take time to arrange childcare.
If your employer agrees for you to switch from full-time to part-time, you should keep the same terms and conditions as the ones that you had when you were full-time (regulation 3, Part Time Workers Regulations). For instance, if you used to work every Wednesday from your home when you were working full time (let’s say 9am to 5pm), now that you do the same job but from 9am to 3pm every day, your employer cannot suddenly say that you can’t work from home on Wednesdays anymore.
This is the case even if you switch to part-time work after your maternity leave (or another type of break), provided the break was for less than 12 months and you return to the same job or a job at the same level (regulation 4, Part Time Workers Regulations). So it might be worth making sure that you are indeed back at work within 12 months (though if you take paid leave at the end of your maternity leave, you are considered in this specific situation to be back at work during your holidays).
This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.