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Making the switch

I am a full-time teacher and want to go part-time. What are my rights? Can I ask for specific days, and how do I stand regarding pension and other financial matters? There is a new statutory right for an employee to request flexible working and a duty on employers to consider it.

This new right is separate from the existing indirect sex discrimination legislation. To qualify you must have a child under six-years-old, or under 18 if the child receives a disability living allowance; make the request no later than two weeks before the child's sixth (or 18th) birthday; be responsible for the child, and the reason for the request must be to care for the child; have worked for your employer for 26 weeks.

If you qualify, write a request on how you wish to work. Your employers must hold a meeting with you within 28 days of receiving this request.

Within 14 days of that, your employers must let you know in writing of their decision. If the request is rejected, it must state the grounds and how it applies, and how to appeal the decision. For more details visit: www.workingfamilies.org.ukaspfamily_zonefs_fw1_flexwork.asp If you do not qualify, you have no statutory right to switch. If you want to switch because you are nearing retirement, you may be able to freeze the part of your pension that is secured on your years of full-time service and start a new pension on your new part-time service. Take professional advice if either applies to you.

If you have a question for John Howson, please email jill.parkin@tes.co.uk

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