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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.


Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 15:03:44

I think it's simpler. If I'm not out of my quota, but you don't like my amount of time off or feel I'm not committed, reflect it in my review. In reality, not everybody's dp can do a 50/50 split, the boss can say whatever they like, but they can't make me get dh to take sick days when he's not in the country or has to let 100s of students down to do it. I think bosses often make unenforceable remarks, I'd just pretend dh was doing his share.

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 15:04:51

Pfft. She could comment all she wanted if she was my boss. Hubby's in the forces so the chances of him having a day off to look after the children because I'm supposed to be at work is minimal at best!

Let her sing it from the rooftops if it makes her feel doesn't mean that she has any right to insist it happens.

affinia So in conclusion then;
Men don't have time off for sick children as often as women do I wonder why that would be then?
you're "very pro equality at work" not practising equality at work hmm

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 15:06:24

interesting debate.

FWIW dh and I split it, but I couldn't say for sure 50/50. when a crisis occurs, we decide who is best able to juggle their timetable/ diary and rearrange stuff. and I always make up the time- which I can do as I'm p/t

I agree with affinia re women in workplace, but not on the 50/50 bit! and anyway, it could well be the father who logistically/ financially need to take the hit for a given family.

BeCool Thu 27-Feb-14 15:07:12

It is so often assumed the woman should do the lions share of sick child cover. Hand up if your partner is a brain surgeon or barrister and you don't have a nanny?

I don't think it unreasonable for an employer to want both parents to share the sick child cover. Why should X employer cover 100% of the cost of the sick leave and Y employer covers none of it?

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 27-Feb-14 15:08:51

I used to manage a large team and I lost count of the number of times women calling in as they needed to look after their ill children would say something like - 'there's no one else, DP needs to go to work'. I couldn't say anything, it wasn't my place to, and they were obviously entitled to take the time off. However, with every single call, I used to wonder why their DHs/DPs wouldn't/couldn't/didn't step up.

BeCool Thu 27-Feb-14 15:09:09

I am separated from DC's father and we still try and share any sick cover for the DD's (admittedly on my insistence as I feel it's not fair to my very accommodating and considerate employers to cover all of it)

louloutheshamed Thu 27-Feb-14 15:09:51

I agree with her. Why should the default be that the woman's job is less important than the man's? That's the message sent if its always the mother taking time off.

I'm a teacher, last year ds had chicken pox and couldn't go to nursery for a week. We managed to cover most of it but I ended up taking one day off, and the cover manager asked why my husband hadn't taken time off and untold her that actually he'd been off for the previous two days... It made me wonder if I should tell then whenever dh had taken time off and I hadn't?

At my school there are quite a lot of married couples on the staff s d funnily enough they are less concerned with gender equality when it will inconvenience them either way....

RiverTam Thu 27-Feb-14 15:11:40

it has to be 50/50 on working days - the part-time worker will cover the days they are not at work (thus facilitating the other's career whilst they do so), so the days that they both work have to be 50/50.

When I went back to work after 3 years DH realised how much he hadn't had to do as a parent. DD got chickenpox in my first month of work so DH had to take 3 days a week off for 3 weeks as I didn't want to take time off when I'd only just started - and his employers had to suck it up as he hadn't taken a single day for DD during the previous 3 years. Which they did as they are quite reasonable.

A family's division of salary etc are of no interest to each employer - whether you are full-or part-time, the main earner or earning pin money - your employer is paying each of you to do a job and you are contracted to do that. To be the one who is always taking time off for the DC really means you aren't pulling your weight and probably shouldn't be working.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 15:12:48

the science, I agree there is a conflict.

but basically I agree with jess and anklebiters... how many people can manage a 50/50 split when the consequences of taking time off vary so much depending on the setting? just not viable for so many ! jess, you are spot on when you say they you just have to fulfil your contract as best you can and keep quiet about any 'inequality' that might cause the boss to feel aggrieved.

thefirstmrsrochester Thu 27-Feb-14 15:15:54

When my dc are unwell, DH shifts what he can to be home for them. When he can't, then I have to take dependants leave. DH is self employed so we are luckier than most re flexibility however (and to the consternation of my manager) he has commitments too and cannot cover 100% of the time. With colleagues I've have noticed that it's mainly the mothers to whom emergency leave falls, the DH is (or a assumed to be) the main wage earner. I see it from both sides. There is no easy answer.

NoonarAgain Thu 27-Feb-14 15:16:00

loulou....funny that I actually didn't mention in my OP whether the person in question was male/ female. this thread isn't just about gender. the woman could equally well be the brain surgeon!!

cardibach Thu 27-Feb-14 15:18:09

I want to work in your school, where you have a 'quota' of time to take off with children - a quota generous that you can talk about being nowhere near it. I am a teacher, and we do not have a quota. We are expected tog et other cover for the sick child in place or take unpaid leave - which can be refused. I had to take my daughter to hospital appointments 2 hrs drive away and I had to take unpaid leave, even if it was only an hour at the end of the day in my PPA time (so no need for class cover).
Anyway, I think you should probably share time off if you can. I am a lone parent, so didn't have that choice. It's cost me a fortune!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 27-Feb-14 15:22:56

Just wanted to add, going back to the situation I mentioned above, it was likely in many cases that the women's DHs and DPs were the higher earners. However, my employer (airline) did offer amazing benefits - vvv cheap flights/hotels etc and many members of staff on say £16,000/yr would also take three or four holidays in far flung destinations a year. I guess what I'm trying to say is that in a lot of the cases I dealt with, money was the main reason given for the women taking time off, but the same women would be sure to eek out every last benefit they could from e company, which in part were meant to compensate for lower than market rate wages. It doesn't seem right that they wanted it both ways, if that makes sense?

Blamenargles Thu 27-Feb-14 15:33:59

I see where employer is coming from but it's not alway possible.
I would never split 50/50 A. Because DP often works away so not possible
B. DP earns more in a week than I do for the whole month.

Tailtwister Thu 27-Feb-14 15:42:51

I think it depends on the company policy. Some places allow a certain number of days leave for such things, whilst others manage more on a case by case basis. I think if someone has taken a lot of time off to care for sick children, it's not unreasonable for an employer to suggest perhaps the father takes some time off as well.

Personally, I've always had to take holiday or unpaid leave to care for sick children. I am lucky that I work from home though, so if it's my older child who is off (like he was 2 days this week) I just continue to work whilst he's at home.

Stockhausen Thu 27-Feb-14 15:43:10

In an ideal world....

But it's a fact that most women earn less for a start, many having less professional jobs.

It comes down to it being the reality of the man losing his job through having time off, meaning losing your home.

funkybuddah Thu 27-Feb-14 15:45:24

In my job I take 100% of the time off for ill dcs as dp doesn't get paid if he's not there plus I only work 16hrs (unless doing overtime) 50% of my hours being a Saturday all I'd not miss that day.

My managers understand this but I'm lucky mine are rarely ill, dc1 (12) has been ill once in 4 years and that was when I was on annual leave anyway.

<eyes dc2 who has a temperature and sore throat, luckily will just be a couple of hours late tomorrow rather than missing a shift if they are ill)

affinia Thu 27-Feb-14 15:47:01

anklebitersmum, sorry I wasn't clear. I am pro-equality!! It makes me angry that the men didn't phone in sick and women did. Its a kind of micro-experiment..generally they were both doing the same job but the men's spouses/partners must have been taking the hit at their own workplaces. There shouldn't have been such a difference but there was and it was depressing to keep addressing attendance in women's reviews and not mens - I was frustrated for the women, not against them, but as an employer attendance was crucial and there should be a level playing field between the sexes.

Somebody said employers often say things that aren't enforceable but attendance (for whatever reason) is a very genuine reason for dismissal and lack of advancement and this is a cause of inequality.

I have a friend where she is by far the main earner and still her DH doesn't take time off causing massive stress for her. This is quite deepseated stuff.

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 16:44:03

In todays workplace allowances have to be made for unforseen childcare commitments. It doesn't make it right or fair that it generally falls to the woman but that's the way the societal cookie crumbles and I agree affinia it is one of the main reasons that women often hit that legendary 'glass ceiling' before men.

I should probably come clean and say that I now stay at home. Chose to when I chose to have the biters and a military husband. The demands of his career mean that I would be an unfair burden in a structured workplace even as brilliant as I am as it would always be me that called in missing. With four biters simple D&V can cost you a fortnight off work and that, I suspect, would raise eyebrows wink

DidoTheDodo Thu 27-Feb-14 16:45:58

What is this "Quota" you speak of?
Most jobs in my sector do not have any such thing. You take annual leave. Sounds like you already have a benefit there!

Thurlow Thu 27-Feb-14 16:52:59

It's a difficult one.

I tend to take more time off to look after DC when ill, but actually my time off either comes from my annual leave or is unpaid (not public sector, so my allowance is 5 unpaid days a year)

DP does have paid leave, but he works in the kind of job where it's really not that simple or that easy for him to take time off, and has a bigger impact on the public.

So we take the hit. But I'd be pissed off if my employer mentioned anything about.

Thepoodoctor Thu 27-Feb-14 17:10:41

Hand up - partner is a barrister. No nanny (I bloody wish grin)

It's surprising how often he can and does take his share of sick DCs and other family emergencies, but yes if he's appearing in the High Court the only excuse is your own hospitalisation, if the judge is in sympathetic mood confused

On the other hand, if he's working at home preparing stuff as he often is, that can easily be moved for a sick child. I think there is often the unwritten assumption that the man has a Very Important Job that can't be disturbed, and the woman's work can be endlessly rearranged.

From each couples point of view I think the burden of illness and family emergencies should be shared as fairly as possible given the demands of each role, and always being mindful of the need to challenge the unwritten assumption above.

From an employers viewpoint I guess they have right and reason to comment if because of an individual's family commitments they aren't able to deliver on the job they've been hired to do. But that should be comment on the non availability of the individual perhaps rather than on their domestic arrangements?

steff13 Thu 27-Feb-14 17:24:50

For us it depends on the nature of the jobs. I've been at my job for 8 years, and I get 80 hours of sick time per year. He just started his job, and has no paid sick time yet. In my job, I make my own schedule four out of five days, and I'm solely responsible for my work and deadlines. If I am off, no one has to fill in for me, with the exception of the one day a week that I'm doing hearings. My husband's job is at a bank; if he's off, other people have to pick up the slack. If one of the kids were sick on the one day a week I can't stay home, my husband would have to take off, or make arrangements for someone else to be with them. I could only take off on that day for an emergency.

It has nothing to do with my job being less important that his. To the contrary, I earn twice what my husband does, my job is very important to our family. It just has to do with the flexibility of our jobs.

MrsKCastle Thu 27-Feb-14 17:32:49

In my case, my DH does more of the cover than I do. His work is pretty flexible and will allow him to take annual leave at short notice if necessary. Most days it doesn't impact hugely on anyone other than himself, and he can make the time up on other days.

I teach and if I'm off it's a right pain for everyone concerned. So we don't split it 50:50- we split it to minimize overall impact on both workplaces. That said, if we needed to be off very often, or for a more extended period, the split would probably be more even.

I8toys Thu 27-Feb-14 17:36:05

Just recently had this when DS2 was off school with a virus.

We earn the same amount although I am PT. I have the ability to work at home and do so two days per week so took those days at home and another when I should have been in the office. My husband, a teacher, then took a day off. It is obviously harder for him to take the time off than me as they need to get cover.

But for me - its about respecting my employer by showing that we are both are willing to take the time off and try and share it - maybe not equally but we can be flexible if needed.

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