Manager Unhappy Regarding Time Off For Children's Sickness

(19 Posts)
TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 13:27:00

This situation involves my husband rather than me and I would appreciate any advice and guidance regarding how he should handle his manager's unhappiness with time off to cover our children's sickness.

The immediate situation is that he had to take 1 day off last week (which was half term) to cover our children being unable to go to their childcare due to a tummy bug. He then caught the bug and was off the following day Thursday, struggled in on Friday (when I had the children) then had to take Monday off again due to his own illness. I don't work Mondays and the oldest was back at school.

Today he was called in by his manager who told him they were exceedingly unhappy regarding the time he takes off for childcare issues, that "it looked suspicious that it was half term" and that they were now going to log every day he takes off for childcare related reasons.

He is a civil servant, has worked in his dept for 14 years and has no history of any complaints in the past for taking excessive amounts of time off sick or for childcare emergencies. Their sickness trigger point is 5 days and at the moment he is on 4 for the past 12 months. He has taken 3 days off for emergency childcare since I returned to work in September (including last week.) Before then no time off for childcare since Sept 2011. I can't remember before that date.Our youngest is 1 year old and we share taking time off between us.

The thinly veilled allegation that he deliberately took time off to look after our eldest during half term is upsetting him and he has printed off the holiday booking club confirmation email to show them. Our son loves his holiday club and was upset to miss a day! I could have taken annual leave over half term if we had wanted to, but not at short notice when the children fell ill.

How should he handle this with his manager? This is not the first time she has made comments about him looking after the children too much. She was very unhappy in the Autumn when he first took a day.He has a flexible working arrangement that means he leaves work early and she has commented that this is all the flexibility he is entitled to. ( arrangement was agreed by a predecessor.) She also told him she could not recommend him for promotion or training due to him prioritising his childcare commitments over work.

That sounds a bit rough, and I'm sure the bit about promotion would count as discriminstion of some sort.

What does he count his days off to look after the children as - annual leave/unpaid? I'm sure that's allowed under parental leave (but best wait for an expert to come along in a minute).

In terms of how to handle his manager, I'd suggest he arranges to sit down with her and discuss all your joint arrangements, and what your plans are should the kids get ill. If she doesn't accept that, he should speak with HR/union.

montague Tue 16-Apr-13 13:47:31

https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants/your-rights

There is a statutory right to take time off (unpaid) to deal with the illness of a dependant. It includes a right not to be subjected to detrimental treatment for exercising that right. Have a look at the link above. Is your husband a TU member? I suggest that he gets the TU and/or HR involved.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 13:48:43

Thank you Jammy.

At the moment his days are taken as Annual Leave but he has told them he understands if it needs to be unpaid.

His HR are useless to be totally frank. (he says) The staff are supposed to be able to have all their needs met by the HR intranet pages, there is nobody to talk to. He isn't in the union.

I think he feels if he talked to her then she would say she doesn't care what our arrangements are! I doubt she has any knowledge of employment law. I think she treats them like children and that he needs to take back control by acting very professionally and maturely. But he will tell me there is no point. There is no doubt he feels bullied by her.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 13:54:35

The manager had no knowledge of the statutory right to time off for dependants , I know this because my DH had to tell them about it last Autumn!

Should he try to get her comments in writing? Go straight to HR (or try to anyway?) Ask to meet with her and try to reach a mutual solution?

I'm getting a bit emotional about it because our youngest is constantly ill and I don't know what else we can do. Before this event I took a whole week off with her because it wasn't an issue at my work for me to take the annual leave at that time, so if anything I'm shielding them for him having to take more time off.

difficultpickle Tue 16-Apr-13 14:07:04

If he has taken 3 days annual leave to cover childcare then surely that doesn't count as emergency childcare in terms of being logged? Or do you mean days taken off from now on and classed as emergency childcare are going to be logged?

You need an HR expert like flowery to advise you but if you are having problems with childcare now both of you are working then maybe you need sort out a back up plan for times when your dcs can't go to the arranged childcare provider.

My employer wouldn't mind if I took the odd day annual leave to cover childcare but they wouldn't be impressed if I took repeated days for emergency childcare even if it was unpaid. The issue for my employer would be getting someone to cover my work at short notice rather than deliberately making life difficult for me.

If your youngest is constantly ill and the CM refuses to take them maybe you need to find another CM. Ds was poorly from birth to after he started school. He always went to the CM unless he was highly infectious, eg tummy bug, conjunctivitis. She was happy to give him medication and care for him whilst I went to work. If she hadn't then I wouldn't have had a job as ds was on antibiotics for 11 months out of 12 every year with repeated infections. Unfortunately when you have to work you have to make some difficult choices.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 14:16:32

Thanks Bisjo, yes it can be so hard with both of us working.

He has taken 3 separate days since September which have been logged as annual leave. She will log these as being childcare related absences. She also wants to log the 2 sick days he took as she doesn't believe that these weren't childcare related.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 14:26:51

I don't know what she is going to do with The Log btw! My attitude would be she can log all she likes, but it is what she does with that information that counts!

Are we being unreasonable to expect her to be ok with this? I am struggling to take all of the emotion out of it, because from my point of view we are working both of us virtually full time, with 2 ill children and being Ill ourselves, with no family support and then being criticised for it. We desperately try to minimise all disruption to our employers and are flexible, even working weekends if needed. I know this isn't how the manager sees it.

Bigger picture is they are chronically short staffed and cannot meet all their staff annual leave and staff the office at the same time. They are offering staff the chance to carry over their leave to next year to get around the issue for now.

flowery Tue 16-Apr-13 14:36:12

"My attitude would be she can log all she likes, but it is what she does with that information that counts!"

Exactly right. If she attempts to discipline him or similar, he is in a good position.

3 days since September isn't loads at all.
He is not doing it all himself, but is sharing with you, which is fair
He is not using emergency dependents' leave, although has offered to

You are not being unreasonable expecting her to be ok with it, the difficulty is what to actually do about it if she is not.

Is there actually promotion/training that she could/should be recommending him for but is not?

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 14:38:12

I am being unreasonable I know. I'm just venting, it's been a bad few months.

He does this job because he wanted a family friendly environment and that is how this branch of the civil service explicitly market themselves!

What we really need is advice on how to handle what is hopefully a temporary situation in the most sensible way, and that leaves both parties happy (happier.) We're willing to change our approach and listen to advice on how to do things differently. He's also prepared to assert his rights if it seems appropriate to stand up to someone who is, I'm not going to mince my words, a bully.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 14:42:42

Thank you Flowery, you are my guru.

Regarding the promotion/training, his previous manager wanted to put him forward for this sort of next steps manager course type thing. When she took over she refused saying that she couldn't recommend him because he prioritised childcare over work. this was just after the first day he took off due to an ill child. When he queried it she used his early finishes (2pm) as an example of this. The early finishes are contractually agreed. He starts early.

NoWayPedro Tue 16-Apr-13 20:05:26

That's discrimination. Get her to put some of this in writing, make sure your DH puts any communication in writing (even to follow up verbal chats) and he should make his own log of comments with dates/times etc.

Manager sounds like an idiot and an ill informed one at that.

TheKin Tue 16-Apr-13 21:11:07

He sent an email today confirming the conversation and showing the invoice for the holiday club as one of their contentions seems to be that the illness (both his and the children's ) was faked as a cover to spend time off on half term with them. I don't know whether to laugh or cry about that to be honest, we're in our 40s not students phoning in sick with a hangover coming up with some elaborate ruse. My husband loves our children but I'm not sure he would go to those lengths just to spend a couple of days with them!

The manager also told him people had lost their jobs for taking this excessive amount of time off which I think he should take as a threat.

auntpetunia Tue 16-Apr-13 21:16:10

email her asking her to confirm the conversations she has had with your husband, so sort of

Further to our conversation on xx when you said xxx in relation to my leave for my sick child and the number of days Annual leave I have taken. As I have explained I am allowed xx days unpaid for emergency care as laid down (use the linky above). I also understand that you feel xxx and that you are unwilling to put me forward for promotion due to my "putting my children before my career" can you please clarify where the "log" you are keeping is going and also how the information you are keeping is to be used.

and hopefully she's too thick to realise that anything she puts in writing to confirm her shocking attitude can be used against her. I also suggest your husband gets himself into the Union ASAP.

That does sound like a threat! auntpetunia's e-mail suggestion sounds good. As does union membership.

hotbot Tue 16-Apr-13 22:58:45

Def. join a union, and as he has used a.l. For this child cover, it shouldn't be logged as anything other than a.l. If they are unhappy re short notice etc then it gets put done as unpaid. It is frustrating as a manager , but actually I think managereps should be flexible within reason, homelike and stresses can cause employees stress and should be massed well, it's not all abou the children staff can also have sick relatives, elderly parents etc. traps at your staff well and you get flexibilityBback in spades imvhu.

hotbot Tue 16-Apr-13 22:59:45

God I can't spell ,,, sorry you get the gist?

TheKin Wed 17-Apr-13 17:55:16

Thank you everyone. Fingers crossed she's all bark and no bite, seems like he definitely has the law on his side.

Hope it all gets sorted!

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