You must consider any formal application made by someone eligible to do so and not to unreasonably refuse it although you are not obliged to grant it. You need to follow the set process when considering any such application.

In order to be eligible the person must be an employee, have at least 26 weeks continuous service, not have made an application during the last 12 months and be making it for the purpose of caring for a child or adult for whom they have specific caring responsibilities.

Where an application is made to care for a child this would need to be made by the mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, foster parent or private foster carer of, or a person in whose favour a residence order is in force in respect of, the child concerned, or be living together as if husband and wife with, or the spouse or civil partner of, any of those people. They would also need to have, or expect to have, specific responsibility for the upbringing of that child who must be under 17, under 18 if the child is disabled.

Where an application is made to care for an adult the employee must be, or expect to be, caring for a person in need of care who is either their spouse or partner, living at the same address as the employee, or is a relative of the employee. Again the request must be made in order to enable them to care for that person.

The purpose is to enable the employee to meet their caring responsibilities. This is not about preferring to work a shorter week. Look at what the nature of the request is and what it will achieve. Do they need to start later or finish earlier because of the opening times of schools or childcare? Do they need to finish early or not travel on certain days in order to get someone to medical appointments? Do they need to reduce the number of days they work because of the limited availability of other care providers?

Think carefully about what it is the employee wishes to change and consider if this is a request you can accommodate. Are there alternative ways of meeting the employee’s needs such as changing roles? Discuss the different options with your employee to see if you can find a solution that meets both your requirements.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.