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AIBU re taking time off work when DC sick

(86 Posts)
NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:27:16

There was a situation at work in which my boss implied that she expects both parents to split things 50/50 if they need to look after sick dc/ attend hospital appointments etc.

AIBU to think that if an employee is within their quota of time off allowed in such circumstances, that the boss has no right to suggest that an employee's spouse should be doing 'their share'.

This is a public sector, setting, btw, so v clear guidelines on what is allowed.

although I can see that sharing this kind of responsibility is ideal for many. but I can think of many high pressure/ 'high responsibility' jobs (eg barrister, heart surgeon) where the fall out would be immeasurable if time off were taken for these reasons. So, in a partnership with certain occupations the spouse/ partner may be the one to do all/ most of the sick cover.


Drquin Thu 27-Feb-14 14:32:08

Guidelines (or even legislation) notwithstanding, I can see her point as the employer.

In reality, yes, there are undoubtedly parents who will choose, or be unable, to split the time required 50/50.

From employer's perspective, she's not wildly out in thinking it would be better all round if she was only exposed to 50% of the short-notice absences for such occasions, as opposed to all of them.

But she's only able to manager her employees and their absences, not employees of other organisations!

Drquin Thu 27-Feb-14 14:33:21

Sorry, my sentence structure is all over the place .....
I meant to say that some parents will chose NOT to split 50/50.

fromparistoberlin Thu 27-Feb-14 14:35:15

time off work for free, or as vacation days???

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:36:36

drquin, sure I can see her point that it would be preferable for her.

AMumInScotland Thu 27-Feb-14 14:36:44

I think it's easy to start feeling that you are the 'soft touch' for such things, and that you are having to take the brunt of the absence because it is the easy option. I doubt your colleague's partner is a heart surgeon!

That said, plenty of people in ordinary jobs have much less 'generous' employers when it comes to special leave, so it's hardly surprising if the public servant is the one to take time off, not the one whose employment situation may be more 'fragile' in the current climate.

NatashaBee Thu 27-Feb-14 14:38:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lunar1 Thu 27-Feb-14 14:38:46

DH could split 50/50 technically, but that would mean cancelling all his patients. Most of them will have taken time off work for their appointments and waited for weeks/months to see him. he would only be off work in an absolute emergency.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:39:07

time off, as in paid time off up to the quota allowed in that organisation and unpaid leave thereafter.

we're not talking about someone coming anywhere even close to that quota- just considering the appropriateness of the boss expressing their view.

Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 14:39:38

I'm in this situation, and I wouldn't let my boss think I was doing all the absences even if I was - if you're within your quota and taking the hit in perception for the time off then letting them know too much about your domestic arrangements is just unwise

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Thu 27-Feb-14 14:43:45

By "paid time off up to the quota" do you mean this is separate to your annual leave? If so I think it is reasonable for your boss to think it should be 50/50. Otherwise, it will be the parent with the more generous quota who takes the bulk of the time, and their organisation suffers more as a result.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:45:49

jess, I agree, but what if the boss still suggests its the spouse's turn. surely it's not acceptable to express this? (even if its understandable to think it).

and another angle springs to mind.... if one parent works part time and is a SAHM parent the other days, is it still fair/ equal/ ideal that in principle things should split 50/50 when surely they are the 'primary carer' (if that's the correct term)?

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:46:44

annual leave doesn't apply. setting is a school.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:47:41

I mean, up to the quota allowed for caring for dependents. smile

MarmaladeShatkins Thu 27-Feb-14 14:49:46


My old boss told me to get my DH to take a week off work to care for DS when he had chickenpox.

No, I won't thanks, love. DH's job pays the lion's share of the mortgage and bills.

MajorGrinch Thu 27-Feb-14 14:50:07

I think you should be allowed to take paid leave up to your quota - that's the point of having a quota surely?

Any unpaid leave after that is at the employers discretion though isn't it? I can see where she's coming from as it can be a nightmare trying to juggle resources to fill the gap....

TheScience Thu 27-Feb-14 14:53:27

Agree with your boss, although she obviously can't enforce it.

You're basically saying that your job in unimportant - fine if you see it like that but obviously your boss doesn't!

affinia Thu 27-Feb-14 14:54:32

You should absolutely split 50/50. A mother's employer is not responsible for their partners occupation, why should they be expected to bear 100% of family related absences. I have managed many parents and I can say that the men very rarely called in due to sick children whilst it became a regular occurrence for SOME women, despite them doing the same. I am very pro equality at work and it is attitudes like this that make it very difficult for women to move on at work and I'm sure its one thing which makes employers reluctant to agree to part time arrangements.

Both parents have to take responsibility when they decide to HAVE children in the first place. Rant over!

HappySeven Thu 27-Feb-14 14:54:49

I can see what you mean and no, it probably isn't appropriate to voice it but I don't work in HR so can't be sure.

My DH and I both work for the same NHS trust, I do part-time. He often takes the day off to cover a sick child because a) colleagues seem to more accepting of a man doing it and b) if I take a day off it's a third of my week whereas he can usually pick up the extra work over the remaining four days of his week. I'm also 'more clinical' and so my work is harder to shift around and someone else would have to cover me.

I obviously cover all days when I'm already at home and am very grateful to have the DH I do.

littledrummergirl Thu 27-Feb-14 14:56:06

Dh is our main wage earner. I will take time off if needed. When I was the main earner all emergency calls went through Dh.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 14:57:33

I don't think i agree with that at all, the science!

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Thu 27-Feb-14 14:58:37

I don't agree with the parent who works part time being 'primary carer' on the days they are working. If anything, ideally it should be pro-rata, so the full time worker would take more time off.

In practice, you probably do what is right for your family. So the one with the better terms would take the time off. But you'd have to weigh up whether always being the one to take time off negatively affects career progression etc. YANBU in that they don't have the right to dictate the share of time taken off. But I can see why your boss would get annoyed if it was always you doing it.

affinia Thu 27-Feb-14 14:59:19

But littledrummergirl the fact that he is the main wage earner is relevant to you and your husband and how you work out your finances, not to your employer. This is one (of several) reasons women are not taken seriously in the many workplaces, some women make themselves less reliable and invested than their male counterparts.

TheScience Thu 27-Feb-14 15:00:07

Noonar - your boss needs you to be at work. You are prioritising someone else to be at work. Of course there is a conflict there.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 15:00:34

so affinia, do you think people should split 50/50 regardless of profession/ level of responsibility?

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