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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.


lilsupersparks Sat 01-Mar-14 12:16:08

As with others here my husband more frequently has the boys when they are ill. He is more able to work from home than I (I'm a teacher) and it is a lot of work for me to be off (setting cover etc). If he had an important meeting i would have to take the day off but I haven't had to for a long time. I agree with the person who said about the pro rata thing too. I am part time and a day off for me is a third of my working week, whereas for him it's only a seventh!

MidniteScribbler Sat 01-Mar-14 10:31:00

I think a lot of it comes down to being seen to make a certain amount of effort to minimise impact on the employer. A parent (of either sex) who takes an extended period of time off would be frowned upon for not taking steps to try and put alternative care in place as soon as practicable, especially if the illness is likely to take several days or even longer such as chicken pox.

MangoBiscuit Sat 01-Mar-14 00:19:17

I haven't read all the posts sorry Just HAD to weigh in with this though. If my DH was a "Heart Surgeon", as an HR recruitment officer in the NHS it would actually be easier in my line of work for me to take the day off! I would be able to scrape together 4 hours in an evening (or just in my commute via mobi;e per week!), which would more than cover the difference of me finding a suitable replacement.

Thankfully my DH does not do surgery, and can work remotely, and for us and our employers, it's more cost effective to work remotely.

SingMoreWhenYoureWinning Sat 01-Mar-14 00:05:55

I take 90% of the time off.

My job ISN'T as important as dh's. He earns three times as much as I do and has 30 odd staff under him. I have a management job also but my team can easily be covered by my deputy or another manager when I'm not there whereas there is no other cover at short notice for DH.

My own manager has had the conversation with me (after two days off at the beginning of the year) along the lines of DH should be splitting it.
I told her he was and that the kids had actually been off four days that week. Not much they can moan about then is there?

maddening Fri 28-Feb-14 23:58:14

we share 50/50 and I also have some support I can call on from mum and sister (dsis more if it was a crisis as she has 2 dc) but my dm works part time 3 days. Ds is at ft nursery but my mum would do 2 days if ds was ill an she was free so we can minimise disruption where possible - I had 2 days this year and dp had 3 but I think 1 day was time in lieu. I haven't been off sick myself this last year (touch wood) so I think my being a parent hasn't really impacted my employer too much.

I think I might try emergency childcare such as a nanny if it was a longer illness such as chickenpox when ds was ok in himself but unable to go out and unable to go to nursery - especially if my dmum couldn't cover a bit

Jinsei Fri 28-Feb-14 23:47:05

I think your boss is right. Why should the woman's employer always have to take the hit? I am the main breadwinner in our family, but DH and I share dd sick days equally.

I used to have a female employee who very regularly took loads of time off to look after her kids. Her DH could have taken time off too, but he never did because he was the higher earner hmm. Her absences caused huge inconvenience to us and to our clients, and put significant pressure on her colleagues. There wasn't anything I could do at the time, but I did judge. She quickly earned a reputation as someone who was just taking the piss and didn't take her job that seriously.

Most of the women in my team take some time off when their kids are ill, but they try to balance this with their partners and/or other solutions. The men in my team very rarely ask for time off to care for dependants, so either their kids are never ill, or their wives' employers are taking the hit.

TeacupDrama Fri 28-Feb-14 23:24:41

also statutory parental leave can be refused though it has to be granted within 6 months of original request

I am female and a dentist I work 2-3 days a week, i do not take time of work if DD is sick it would mean cancelling 20-30 patients a day you might have had to take annual leave for the appointment, Dh is self employed and can mostly be more flexible, DD would need to be hospitalised before I would cancel a clinic I would not go in if I was ill myself as that is not in patients best interests, I am expected to have a plan B,C and D for childcare as if I am running late with patients I can't just leave because nursery/after school care closes at 6pm, I have to have the other plans for picking her up,

where my sister works they get 2 hours unpaid to arrange childcare if child sick etc

I do not think it has to be 50/50 if depends on job flexibility/ responsibility within job for some people job security and finances will also influence decision,

if an employer thinks someone is taking the mickey with childcare emergencies there are ways of dealing with it

apermanentheadache Fri 28-Feb-14 21:56:49

There is a statutory right to parental leave but it has to be taken in whole week periods, usually only applies if your child is under 5, and is unpaid. Oh, and you have to give 21 days' notice: helpful!

You can also take time off to care for dependants in an emergency.

Mandy21 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:55:33

redhelen court appointments cant generally be rearranged at the last minute, thats the reason for the reference to barristers.

I think the quota is irrelevant to be honest, its your ability to do your job. If you are still doing that, making up your time, not leaving it to your colleagues to do your work / pick up the slack, then your boss shouldn't be commenting. However if you've had quite alot of days off / not made an effort to make up missed time (even though you're technically within your quota) because your H hasnt covered any of the children's sickness then I think shes probably justified.

Lucylouby Fri 28-Feb-14 21:52:01

I wish it was 50/50 for sick children in this house. I have had to take two days off work this week for poorly children and had a week off at the beginning of the month for the same thing. DH has said he can't take time off, apparently the factory he works in has a three strike rule, if you don't turn in for work three times your out. (He works through an agency so don't know if it changes things). I am livid about this excuse, they are his children too, but apparently (he tells me) the government only sets guidelines about this kind of thing, the companies don't have to follow them. He also leaves for work at 5.30, so is long gone before I know there is a problem with a child in the morning. So, even though we earn pretty much the same, I have to take time off because my job won't fire me for needing to stay with the children. He could be telling me anything though, in our social group, it always seems to be the mothers taking time off, even when they are in the higher level job.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 28-Feb-14 21:37:11

It should be 50/50 as much as possible so that the burden is shared between employers.

I think some people see paid dependents leave as extra holiday like sick leave and use their quota before considering any other options. Where dependants leave is not paid or annual leave needs to be used people tend to split the cover more.

Mushypeasandchipstogo Fri 28-Feb-14 21:06:25

It should be 50 / 50 as much as possible. It is in our house but it depends who has the busiest day. Incidentally most female GPs I know have au pairs or nannys who can help out if need be.

BusinessUnusual Fri 28-Feb-14 13:17:17

Yy Jammie. I am client facing, DH manages an internal team and rarely has client meetings. That plays a part in diary top trumps.

JammieCodger Fri 28-Feb-14 13:13:49

Glad to see this has moved on from the 'Depends who's the main wage earner' argument. It should have nothing to do with who earns more money and be entirely down to whose job is more flexible on any given day.

Many low paid jobs are much less flexible than higher paid managerial posts. My husband and I both work in the same field. He is two grades higher than me and full time to my part time, but that's not something that comes into the equation at all. We look at if either of us has any immovable meetings, and if we're both equally free then it will come down to who drew the short straw last time. If we are both particuarly busy then one will aim to get into work very early, do five hours or so then head home and let the other go in and work late. On the extremely rare occasions that we both have meetings at the same time, it will more often be him who rearranges; its a benefit of his seniority that he's far more likely to be able to do that than I am.

SeaSickSal Fri 28-Feb-14 11:57:12

Noonar, you are coming up with a lot of hypotheticals but you don't say they apply to you. Yes if course if someone has a job where it's going to hugely impact other people (barrister, surgeon) an employer should be sympathetic. A hypothetical situation is no justification though.

She can't force you, but I think you would be blind not to see this will probably rule out promotion for you and mean you are first in line for redundancy.

babacoon Fri 28-Feb-14 11:36:03


I work in a highly pressurised job where sometimes it is just not possible to take time off so DH does most of the childcare.

Having said that I now make it a point to either take time off when DS is unwell or work from home to atleast be around him . Fortunately I can do it and I completely understand that most people wouldn't be able to make this sort of arrangement.

I think that if your company policy allows you to take time off when your DC is sick then no one should be telling you what your other half should be doing or not doing. It is your personal matter. Your boss/ company do not have an automatic right to dictate your personal life because they employ you.

littledrummergirl Fri 28-Feb-14 11:27:44

Affinia, I absolutely agree that is is relevant to my family. My responsibilty first and foremost is to my family. If I had a career or a job that did more than pay a wage then it might be different.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 28-Feb-14 09:02:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chunderella Fri 28-Feb-14 09:01:23

In an ideal world, it would be split. In practice, that isn't realistic for a number of reasons. Obviously there are couples where one partner works away, or is in the forces. With the best will in the world, it's highly unlikely someone will be allowed back from Afghanistan in order to help their child observe the 48 hour rule.

Sometimes one job is just plain more important than the other, and not always the same one. For example, if one of you is a teacher, that person really can't miss deadline day for handing in coursework but it isn't so bad if they're not there in the final week of the summer term. If you're a barrister and it's the last day of a murder trial or a final hearing in a care case, it would be pretty negligent of you not to go. If it's a quick case management hearing, your colleague can cover easily enough. If you're a consultant and people have taken time off to see you, then you need to be there. But if you were having a paperwork day anyway, you can just as easily do that at home while you shove your 9 year old in front of a DVD.

Additionally, the consequences of taking time off may not be the same for both partners. If one of you is self employed, that person might lose a lot more than a day's pay by cancelling a client at short notice. If one of you has paid parental leave allocation and the other doesn't, of course you're going to use the paid portion first. If one of your employers is a complete bastard, you're going to try and avoid pissing that one off. In reality, these things are all going to weigh more heavily than strict 'fairness'. Regarding the OP, I can see why the supervisor might be pissed off but if employees have a contractual allowance and the person is nowhere near exceeding it, tough shit. I would also be watching her extremely carefully to ensure she didn't treat me less favourably because of it. So OP is NBU.

KristinaM Fri 28-Feb-14 08:48:55

Woo -surely YOUR family is losing money because one of YOUR children is sick? And surely treating YOUR employer fairly is part of keeping YOUR job, which benefits YOUR family?

I dont see how your sharing such leave with your childrens father is somehow for the Benefit of other peoples children ?

I think some parents need to think beyond the short term issues of " who wil lose a days pay this month " and look toward as the long term. Women always being the one to take sick leave and expecting their employer to make allowances for them will ultimately damage their career , earning power and pension.

Juts remember that between 35-50% of the men for whom all these allowances are being made ( of course his job is more important than mine , he earns more ) will bugger off in the end . And if you want to know how many of them will be reasonable and do 50% of the child rearing and pay their share -check out the single parent and relationship threads here.

RedHelenB Fri 28-Feb-14 08:42:14

Why are barristers so important - court times can be rescheduled, it's hardly a matter of life & death!

BusinessUnusual Fri 28-Feb-14 08:27:36

For a school worker, the partner will never have to cover sick kids for one quarter of the year so if anything the partner should cover slightly more than 50% of term
Time sickness.

MyNameIsKenAdams Fri 28-Feb-14 08:26:58

Dh was telling me about a country where any parental leave etc taken in the first half of the.month is done by thw men and in the second half of the.month by the women. Keeps things even I suppose!

BusinessUnusual Fri 28-Feb-14 08:24:24

Shared equally and I always casually mention "DC is sick today so DH is home; if he's still sick tomorrow I'll need to be off" or similar.

Diary top trumps to see who takes the first day.

If one if you works part time then I would have thought the other takes more days off (as on average the part time person will cover more with their normal days off)

However, if one work place has a better leave policy it might well not be50:50 but I'd try and keep it at 60:40 or something, def not 100:0 as seems to be the case here.

WooWooOwl Fri 28-Feb-14 08:22:30

I can see both sides of this so I'm firmly on the fence!

As school support staff I'm paid a pittance and DH earns slightly more in a week than I make in a month, so it's a fact that his job is more important than mine with regards to our finances, especially as he's contract and doesn't get any sick or holiday pay.

But in reality there have been a couple of occasions where he has taken days off to cover childcare because I know that being a staff member down will mean chaos at school during certain lessons and children won't get the same level of education that day if one of us is missing. Plus me having a day off affects my colleagues a lot more than DH having a day off will affect his, so we find ourselves in a ridiculous situation where our family loses money for the sake of other people's children.

Ultimately I think I believe time off should be split between the couple, even if one partner is earning significantly more than the other.

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