Working Rights of Single Mothers & Parents

A single mother, and any single parent has the full protection of UK employment legislation. In this respect, there is no distinction between a single parent who works and any other employee.

calculator and pay slip

A single parent, however, may have concerns about work. These worries may relate to time off, flexible working and in-work benefits. But in all of these areas, a single parent has specific working rights.


Single Mother Maternity Rights

Single parents who are pregnant can have up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. For 39 of these 52 weeks, a single parent can receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

There are criteria that a single mother must meet before qualifying for SMP:-

  • She must be earning at least the same as the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is the amount a worker must earn before becoming liable for National Insurance contributions.
  • 15 weeks before the baby is due, she must have worked for one employer for 26 weeks or more without a break.

The employer arranges Statutory Maternity Pay. A single mother must give her employer medical proof of the baby’s due date and must say when she would like the SMP to begin.

An employer pays SMP in the same way as wage or salary payments. The amount for the first six weeks is 90% of average gross earnings per week.

The amount for the next 33 weeks is either:-

  • 90% of average gross weekly earnings, or
  • the current standard rate of SMP £135.45.

The lower of these two figures is the amount the employer pays. If a single parent cannot receive SMP, Jobcentre Plus may be able to arrange Maternity Allowance instead.


Flexible Working Hours

Under the law, a single parent has the right to ask an employer for flexible working hours.

A single parent must be an employee and have worked for an employer without a break for 26 weeks or more. Anyone who applies for flexible working hours can only do so once every 12 months.

An employer must give serious thought to a request for flexible working hours. There must be reasonable business reasons for any decision an employer takes to refuse a flexible working request.


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