Catherine Rogan

Catherine Rogan

Parental rights

Catherine has worked on the Working Families helpline for almost 10 years. As well as helpline work she has delivered training on parental rights  to Unison reps, Gingerbread advisers and Family Information Service workers.

Catherine will answer questions on maternity leave and pay, rights of pregnant workers, flexible working for parents, time off when children are ill and parental leave.

Can my employer force over time on me when I don't have childcare for the extra hours ..I'm contract 20 hrs there wanting me to do 30+. Angela           

Dear Angela,

Your employer could try and force the change through by giving you notice to start a new, 30 hour contract. This would be the same notice as if they wanted to dismiss you (as technically they would be giving notice to end the old contract and start a new one.)

If they did this you might be able to make a claim of indirect sex discrimination: you could argue that the requirement to work for 30 hours, or to work overtime, was more difficult for men than women to comply with. If you could show this then your employer would have to show that asking you to work those hours was a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate end. If you would like more information on this please call our helpline on 0300 012 0312.

Im about to start back at work after maternity leave. Whilst been off the company has been taken over by new people. Im been expected to work shifts later in the night than i did before i left which i do want to do and cant with my partners early shift pattern. As a lot of shifts have changed around a bit whilst i was off do i have to now work what they say? i was under the impression i had rights to return to the shifts i had? Thanks in advance. Amy          

Dear Amy,

Your right to return to work after maternity leave is to the same job on the same terms and conditions. That means that you mustn’t be given different hours just because of maternity leave. It doesn’t protect you from changes that are happening throughout the organisation. You should have been consulted about the changes along with other staff.

If your contract has a specific shift pattern on it then you have the right to rely on that, but your employer could try and force the change through by giving you notice to start a new contract with the later hours. This would be the same notice as if they wanted to dismiss you (as technically they would be giving notice to end the old contract and start a new one.)

If they did this you might be able to make a claim of indirect sex discrimination: you could argue that the requirement to work later in the evening, was more difficult for men than women to comply with. If you could show this then your employer would have to show that asking you to work those hours was a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate end. If you would like more information on this please call our helpline on 0300 012 0312.

Hi, I would like to know if my area manager has the power to force me to work a shift when I have no childcare. When I started my job I was fully flexible and could work any days they asked. Unfortunately my husband was moved from night shift to day shift which meant I could only do a Friday and Saturday. I approached my boss and she agreed as did the area manager. During my six month appraisal my boss said that although she was sympathetic to my circumstances there may come a time when I may be forced to work a shift and find someone to watch my son. There only is me and my husband to do the childcare and now I\'m constantly worrying about this issue. There is no specific days set in my contract that I have to work only the amount of hours I do. Can you advise me on where I stand? Nicola