Manager delaying on part-time hours request

I am currently on maternity leave and looking to return to work, part time early next year. My problem is that my manager will not commit to part-time hours until “6-8 weeks before returning to work”. Can he do this?
As an organised person I am finding this hard to deal with. I need to organise days at nursery and childcare. I have only asked informally in a meeting and not in writing yet. Would this be the next step?

I would advise that you say you would like to raise it informally now, but that you are aware that if this can’t be agreed to at the moment then the next step would be to request it formally and that the formal request would need to be responded to in a three-month time scale.

Even better I would leave it for now, but maybe contact them next month and arrange some keeping in touch days and raise it informally again then. If no luck then I would formally put in a request in July.

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