Family friendly working: what the law says

 Your rights to fair treatment in the way you work are protected by:

  • The Sex Discrimination Act
  • The Employment Rights Act
  • The Human Rights Act

Rights to parental and other leaves and protection against detrimental treatment are provided for under the Employment Rights Act (ERA).

Detrimental treatment can involve sex or marriage discrimination, or victimisation, which is also unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act.

The Sex Discrimination Act can enhance rights available under other legislation and applies to broader groups of worker than the Employment Rights Act .

For this reason and because of facilities uniquely available under equality legislation, complainants should seek advice if they feel the Sex Discrimination Act may apply to their claim. It is important to bear in mind that there is a strict time limit of 3 months less one working day for bringing an action under the Sex Discrimination Act.

The Sex Discrimination Act

The Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for employers and other organisations to treat women or men less favourably because of their sex or because they are married.

Employment Rights Act

Right to request flexible working

The Employment Rights Act (ERA) 1996 (as amended by the Employment Act 2002) gives parents the right to request flexible working. To be eligible for this right you have to have children under 6 (or under 18 if disabled) and to have completed 26 weeks continuous service with your employer. The right to request flexible working is also to be extended to carers of adult relatives from 1st April 2007

Human Rights Act

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) protects the right to respect for private and family life. UK legislation now has to be interpreted in accordance with the HRA. There is an additional obligation on a public authority to ensure its practices and procedures comply with the HRA, including the treatment of its employees which may help your claim if you work in the public sector. If you work in the private sector, you may also be able to argue that the HRA strengthens any claim you may have under the Sex Discrimination Act. If you wish to include the HRA in your claim, you must include this on your employment tribunal claim form. You must refer to Article 8 and Article 14.  Article 14 covers freedom from discrimination, which is not a free standing right, but can be cited in conjunction with other HRA rights (such as article 8).

Last Updated: 30 Jun 2009