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Being pressured to attend meeting 60 miles away

(25 Posts)
Shakirasma Tue 04-Dec-12 14:46:39

i have worked for my employer for nearly 4 years. I have a 20 hour a week contract, working 4 hours per day mon-fri as an administrator in a retail store. I work these hours during the school day.

The company has decided it wants all administrators to attend a meeting at head office. This would mean making a 75 mile journey for a 9.15am start, finishing at 2.30pm, so the meeting itself is longer than my working day plus over 3 hours travelling too.

Whilst my 9 YO could probably be sorted out to allow this, my 5 YO is autistic and attends a special school several miles away. He is collected and dropped off by taxi each day. I need to be at home to deal with this pick up and drop off at 8.15am and 4.00pm and I cant see anyway round it. The taxi cannot use a different address and my son wouldn't cope with the change anyway. It needs to be me, at home.

The only other way round it is for my DH to take the day off, however he is self employed so no work means no money and as the main breadwinner earning several times what I do, this is not a financially viable option.

So for the sake of my family I cannot attend. Can my employer force me to?

Shakirasma Tue 04-Dec-12 14:47:35

Sorry, title should say 75 miles.

WipsGlitter Tue 04-Dec-12 15:02:17

I don't think they can make you go. But it will be noted. If your husband is self employed can he not just start later and finish earlier, rather than a whole day off.

LittleFlower888 Tue 04-Dec-12 15:08:18

Hiya, have you raised your concerns with your manager? If you don't feel comfortable talking to them, do you have an HR Manager?

You can't be forced to attend a meeting if it's unreasonable.

The best thing to do is make someone aware of your personal circumstances.

I'm a HR Manager....let me know how it goes. X

ClareMarriott Tue 04-Dec-12 15:42:15

If you have been informed well in advance of this meeting and your DH is self employed, could'nt he for one day only arrange to be at home so you can attend the meeting?

Shakirasma Tue 04-Dec-12 15:42:30

Thanks for your replies.

UnFortunately my husband is often working a good trek from home himself, infact this week he is very near to my head office so a short working day is not an option.

My store manager is aware of my home situation but as nice as he is, he really doesn't get it. I don't expect he has informed his seniors so I think I will do that myself. I will have a chat with the regional admin tomorrow.

Shakirasma Tue 04-Dec-12 15:47:49

The meeting is next week. DH is a tradesman so cannot work from home.
I am on NMW, there is a ban on overtime so for that day I would earn just over £24 plus 1 hour time in leiu.

DH would be losing £120 by taking the day off. We cannot afford that, and with work being hit or miss he has to work when he can because sometimes he can have periods of several weeks earning nothing at all.

Abra1d Tue 04-Dec-12 15:53:07

Could you ask to leave at, say 12 so that your husband could stay to do the morning taxi and you'd be back home in time for the return taxi?

Having seen my husband out of work for over 18 months and having myself seen my freelance work and other earnings diminish in the same period I think you have to be seen to be being very cooperative at work at the moment.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 04-Dec-12 16:04:50

Is there any friend you could ask to help to do either the morning or afternoon pick up - pay them back with babysitting another time? I know it's difficult with an autistic child, but it would be for only a very short time at each end. In your position and the current economic climate I would move mountains to make it work if at all possible.

Shakirasma Tue 04-Dec-12 16:17:43

The need to be seen to be cooperative is exactly what is worrying me.

Thank you for your very reasonable suggestions, however my DHand I have considered and eliminated every option we (and you) can think of and it simply boils down to him taking the day off which we really cannot afford.

I will explain my personal circs to HR and hope they don't judge me too harshly sad

MoreBeta Tue 04-Dec-12 16:24:48

Somebody just hasnt thought through the implications for part time staff.

Firms do that to people.

You need to explain why this is giving you a problem and put it in writing and keep a copy - just in case anyone wants to make it an issue later.

nellyjelly Tue 04-Dec-12 16:26:23

I posted a not dissimilar thread recently. What makes me sick is that employers are so inflexible at times and we just have to suck it up and be grateful we have jobs.

We have lives outside of work and most of us are not paid huge salaries where there is some expectation of total flexibility. Really gets my goat.

(Just call me Red Nell!)

hermioneweasley Tue 04-Dec-12 21:00:27

If it is a one off I think you should try and be accommodating: however if you're in a NMW job then I would expect overtime or time off in lieu.

theoriginalandbestrookie Tue 04-Dec-12 21:29:35

If you were to leave as soon as you dropped off your son and left the meeting when you needed to to be back at 4 then what sort of timings would that leave you with ?
If it gets you there for the bulk of the meeting then thats what I would offer to do - shows you are being willing, but also means you are still able to be there for the taxi pick up and drop off.

janey68 Wed 05-Dec-12 07:11:23

This sounds like the first time you have Been asked to do something like this in 4 years. So it doesn't sound like your employers are being unreasonable. On the contrary, you are very fortunate to have a job which offers regular hours and you and your dh never have to organise before/after school or holiday care. That's got to be worth a lot! This is a one off meeting which people need to attend and in your position I would move heaven and earth to compromise. Even if your husband ends up taking a day off, if that comes around once every 4 years, then it's really not that bad. It might also help to look at it this way: your dh may lose a days pay, but if you were having to pay wrap around childcare for your two children every day then youd be far worse off...
I appreciate it's difficult when a child has SEN but in this situation your employer doesn't sound at all unreasonable and I would really want to fit around their needs on this occasion

StillSquiffy Wed 05-Dec-12 08:08:10

When you speak to HR why not offer to attend by telephone? It will show that you are willing to engage in the meeting, even if you can't be physically present.

annh Wed 05-Dec-12 08:19:06

OP, how do you manage with school holidays, sickness etc? Can you use whatever childcare you have in place then for this day?

Shakirasma Wed 05-Dec-12 14:29:44

Theoriginalandbestrookie. That is a good idea, I will enquire whether I can arrive late and leave early.

This is not the first time in 4 years I have been asked to do this, this is the 3rd time, last time fell during school holidays so my DS was at the childminder's. The first time he was only a toddler, so was also at the childminder's then too. He has only been at special school since this September, prior to that he was at the same local school as his sister, so the rigid taxi times have never been an issue before.

I do not think my employers are being unreasonable at all, I am just very concerned that my home responsibilities and work responsibilities are not compatible on this occasion.

I am not lucky to have a job with regular hours, I chose this job to fit in with my home life having been a SAHM for 2 years. At the time I went back to work we had no idea that our DS had a serious disability. And I do pay for childcare during school holidays .

janey68 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:51:32

I would ask the childminder who you use during holidays if she can cover this then. It's not like a full day; it would just be after school until you get back. There is no reason why the taxi shouldn't drop off at the cms address either, as long as you have specified in writing that this is the agreement. At most it might mean a small extra payment if the journey is longer than usual

Shakirasma Wed 05-Dec-12 15:59:18

A perfectly sensible suggestion for most children Janey. Absolutely out of the question for my autistic child, the confusion and anxiety such a change in the routine of his school day would cause, is not something I will subject him to.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 05-Dec-12 16:04:25

Can you ask your company about setting up a video conference? We use Movi (sp?) cameras and normal computers to do it where I work, but I'd have thought even Skype might work????

Sell it to them as a benefit as it cuts costs by reducing travelling in work time.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 05-Dec-12 17:31:04

Good idea generally viva but maybe not appropriate here as it looks like they are trying to get all the administrators together.

From a bosses perspective I would be :
1) a wee bit irritated if I had gone to the effort of organising an offsite and someone started talking to me about videoconferences
2) Slightly irked if the OP didn't turn up at all

Therefore I do think that getting there for the hours that you can is the best compromise you can offer, even better if your DH can cut his day short slightly as getting home for 4.00 wouldn't mean too much of an early finish for him and arrive late but stay until the end.

Rwep Wed 05-Dec-12 17:45:19

I'm sorry, but if I was you're employer I'd be thinking you hadn't tried that hard, the way you've knocked back everyone's suggestions.

For a start presumably they'll be paying you overtime and mileage, so how out of pocket will you be really?

Your DH can arrange to "make up" the hours he misses surely as he's SE.

You have childminder your son knows in the holidays, it can't be impossible to ask her to do a few extra hours. The taxi must be able to do a different address with proper permissions, what would happen if you were in hospital, or moved?

I'd think it was reasonable for you to get there as early as you could and for your DH to arrange once to be there at 4pm. This is why it's so hard to employ women - yes I know your husband's job is more important to your family, but why does that mean "my" business has to suffer every time there's a childcare challenge, just because I employ mothers?

I'm not an employer BTW, but a mum who works school hours in a set up very similar to your - I do though very occasionally, with lots of notice, arrange to be away from home overnight shock when the job requires it

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 05-Dec-12 18:14:30

I'm a p/t employee too and occasionally I manage trips to London and changing my working hours for important meetings. OH is a contractor so again we miss out on salary when he isn't working.

Crucial differences between OP and myself, DS does not have SN so can pay (handsomely through the nose) for extra wrap around at school and secondly I am not on minimum wage so there are more expectations of me. In OPs case on minimum wage I would make reasonable attempt to be there, but wouldn't expect to lose a day of OHs pay for it

janey68 Wed 05-Dec-12 19:16:13

Your child is with the cm during school holidays, but if he can't cope with the change of routine to go there as a one off after school then in your position I would accept that your dh needs to cut his working day short as a one off. It means taking a bit of a financial hit but as you say, your child's needs come first. And weigh it up by remembering all the money youre not having to pay out during term time normally. Once a year on average to have to do it isn't bad.

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