Caroline’s story

Caroline is a mother of two disabled children. She was about to return to work with her large employer after a period of unpaid carer’s leave. When she checked that she would still be working the family-friendly hours she had worked before, she was told that if she needed to take one of her children to an appointment it would be treated as unauthorised absence and she would be penalised. In their words, there was ‘no availability’ for her to take time off in such circumstances.

We explained that she couldn’t be penalised for taking leave, albeit unpaid, for dependants in an emergency and that having notice of an appointment didn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t an emergency. We also advised Caroline that if she had 21 days’ notice of any appointment she could use parental leave. All working parents are entitled to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child to take before they are 18, and parents of children entitled to Disability Living Allowance are able to take parental leave in units of one day.

Caroline is just one of almost 3,000 parents who contact our legal advice line each year seeking advice on issues such as maternity/paternity discrimination and flexible working. If you need advice, you can reach our free advice line on: 0300 012 0312

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