Family friendly working

If you want to change your hours of work, or if your employer is imposing a change to your hours that you cannot manage because of your childcare, you can use the advice given here to help achieve a pattern of working hours that meets your needs.

Discrimination in the area of family-friendly working can take several forms:

  • direct sex discrimination
  • indirect sex discrimination
  • indirect marriage discrimination
  • victimisation

Direct sex discrimination

If your request to change your working hours is refused you would have a claim of direct sex discrimination if you could identify someone of the opposite sex in similar circumstances who had been allowed to change their working hours.

If women in the organisation are allowed to job-share, but men are not, this would be direct sex discrimination against the men.

Indirect sex discrimination

Because more women than men have family responsibilities and wish to work part-time, a policy that everyone works full-time can amount to indirect sex discrimination as it would put women at a particular disadvantage.

Indirect marriage discrimination

Because more married women than single women have childcare responsibilities, a policy of full-time working can amount to indirect marriage discrimination. Please note: you must be married or in a civil partnership at the relevant time; other marital status is not covered by the Sex Discrimination Act.


You may have a victimisation claim if your employer disciplines you because you have complained that he or she has acted unlawfully by not allowing you to work part-time.

More information

For more information on family-friendly and flexible working, see Guidance for workers: Working hours, flexible working and time off.

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Last Updated: 29 Sep 2014