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after-school nanny - is this a sackable offense and if not how to handle it?

(38 Posts)
bossykate Tue 18-Aug-09 10:43:17

our after-school nanny has been on holiday in her home country for the last four weeks - this was agreed as pre-existing holiday when she joined us, even though it has not been particularly convenient in that it has not coincided with any family holiday. i texted her yesterday asking her to pls remind me what date she was coming back (thought it was in fact yesterday tbh - the four weeks being up) got a very apologetic text saying that due to lots of problems with husband's car (they drive there and back) and having to order new parts from out of the country they are not able to come back until 31st August - an additional two weeks off.

i was absolutely furious last night when i got this. i haven't yet replied. h no help at all - actually we can manage for another couple of weeks. but as far as i'm concerned that's not the point. to me this is a sacking matter. otoh, i could give verbal/written warning or dock pay (dodgy legal ground?). contract explicitly states amount of holiday and that there is no entitlement to unpaid leave.

nanny is excellent - but think we have gone beyond that, iyswim.

please help - wwyd?

thanks in advance

branhasnocommentfortheDM Tue 18-Aug-09 11:04:17

What is particularly annoying about this situation is that she waited for you to ask before telling you that she would be back late. Why did she not contact you as soon as there was a problem? Was she going to tell you at all? She could come back, there's no reason for both her and her husband to wait for the parts, it sounds like a bit of a made-up excuse to me.

If this holiday was pre-existing before she started working with you then I'm guessing that she has been with you less than a year, which I think will make life much easier if you want to sack her. You can just give her notice (I'm not a HR person though so hopefully one will be along soon).

I guess the question is do you want to keep her? Has she been reliable up to this point? Would it be hard to replace her? I guess if you want to keep her you could make it clear that you are very annoyed, and add a clause to her contract that failure to return from holiday on the correct date will in future be a sackable offence.

If you do decide not to sack her what will you do if the car parts don't turn up when they are supposed to? I think you would probably need some agreement from her that if the car isn't fixed by a certain date she will travel back without it in order to be able to work for you.

QueenofAllWildThings Tue 18-Aug-09 11:07:55

hmmm, this is hard. you don't want to lose a good nanny and end up with a worse one, but then again it's a bit ripe to only inform you once YOU had texted HER. I'd be inclined to limp along and keep her, but to inform her that it was unacceptable and that you won't put up with it again. Kind of like a formal warning?

crunchygranola Tue 18-Aug-09 11:36:10

Sack her. That's probably what would happen if you did this to your work.

This happened with my nanny once and I sincerely regretted afterwards not sacking her then, because it turned out to be very indicative of her attitude to work.

But then, I don't know your nanny. I'm curious though about your comment "nanny is excellent - but think we have gone beyond that, iyswim" - is this her only offence so far? Why do you think she's excellent?

justaphase Tue 18-Aug-09 11:45:16

I had a similar situation with a nanny - although she did phone me the night before she was due to start, and I was due to return to work - to tell me she was stuck in her home country but will be back within a few days. This went on for a couple of weeks - her phoning every few days - at which point I gave up and looked for another one.

She later wrote me a letter explaining that she decided to get married and needed to change her visa status which took a lot longer than she expected. It would have been fine if she had told me in advance - but being able to trust and rely on your nanny is the most important thing, far more important than in other jobs. So I would say - let her go.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Tue 18-Aug-09 11:53:58

She should see this as a job, if someone 'went missing' for 2 weeks they would be sacked. There's no reason why she can't catch the flight/train etc to get back, it is a paid job and she should see it as such.

ruddynorah Tue 18-Aug-09 11:57:54

if she's been with you for less that a year then she has no come back as such for something like this as sacking her wouldn't be covered by discrimination laws. so maybe just give her notice and end it? unless you think she's decent?

bossykate Tue 18-Aug-09 12:52:56

hi everyone

thanks very much for the responses. i am still thinking it through, taking your comments on board.

crunchgranola, i mean she has been an excellent nanny in the course of her day to day duties, but no matter how good she is this is a serious "offence".

thanks again for the replies.

bossykate Tue 18-Aug-09 12:53:26

sorry, crunchygranola.

GypsyMoth Tue 18-Aug-09 13:12:42

She's an after sch nanny. Are your schools back now then?

nannynick Tue 18-Aug-09 13:24:11

It's a reliability issue I feel... the holiday was approved but you had expected her to return on the pre-agreed date.
You could agree to permit her to extend her holiday - on the understanding that the extra days are unpaid.
Is this the first occasion that she has been unreliable?
Will you be able to find a replacement easily? If so, then you could give notice under the terms of the contract, and get someone else.
If finding someone else will be tricky and this is the first time your nanny has been unrelaible, then you may want to consider giving a written warning (with regard to failure to attend work on working days) and agreeing that on this occasion those days will be considered to be unpaid leave.

branhasnocommentfortheDM Tue 18-Aug-09 13:40:59

IDRTDMA I'm assuming that BossyKate's kids are in holiday club or similar, so she would be an after-club nanny atm. I'm not sure her exact hours are of any relevance anyway. She was supposed to be back after 4 weeks and isn't, not only that she hasn't given BK any warning of this.

bossykate Tue 18-Aug-09 14:20:23

yes, bran, you got it.

thanks to all for the comments.

slayerette Tue 18-Aug-09 14:23:28

Do not understand why she cannot fly back and leave husband there to sort out the car?

lisad123wantsherquoteinDM Tue 18-Aug-09 14:24:43

Im a little confused. If she an after school nany why does she need to be back now? they are surely off school for another 2 weeks?

bossykate Tue 18-Aug-09 14:33:01

because she works the same hours every day regardless of school or school holidays. the only exceptions are (should be) her holidays and bank holidays.

lisad123wantsherquoteinDM Tue 18-Aug-09 14:36:11

oh I see now. OK I would sack her then, not on at all, especially if she didnt call till you did.

AxisofEvil Tue 18-Aug-09 14:37:35

There is nowhere on this planet that it can possibly take two weeks to get back from - there is no way she needs to wait for these car parts. She is taking the piss.

lalalenny Tue 18-Aug-09 22:04:34

It is not acceptable of her to have done this but if she is otherwise a good nanny I would not sack her. It is not fair for children to have lots of different carers. They do need consistency. Give her another chance but don't pay her for the extra time off.

It isn't always easy to find someone to do a good job in an after school only capacity. Also, if you sack her and have to find a replacement you are making more work and hassle for yourself than you have already been caused.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 19-Aug-09 09:58:13

it seems to me that your nanny is taking the piss

if she really had had car problems and couldnt come back then she should have rang you the day it happened and grovelled

what country is she in?

I would inform her that if she isnt at work by monday at 8am that she will be fired

her dh can stay with the car and she can get a plane/train home

LadyMuck Wed 19-Aug-09 10:12:51

Firstly my sympathies - this type of childcare hiccup is never fun.

Personally I would echo Nannynick's advice, and consider how easily she can be replaced. I haven't been looking or a nanny recently, but ime it has always been harder to find good afterschool nannies. And I don't know where your nanny is from but again ime I have found that domestic employees from Eastern Europe tend to head back for a month at a time and get immersed in their family life and seem to forget about their duties here.

I would have thought that not turning up for work is clearly a sackable offence (gross misconduct). In your shoes I would be tempted to look around for an alternative nanny in the net 2 weeks and then decide what you want to do.

AtheneNoctua Wed 19-Aug-09 10:28:42

Hi BK. Haven't seen you in ages.

I would reply to the text and decline her request for further holiday (politely). Then I would save the texts to document the case for when I sack her, which I would if she didn't show up for work the rest of the week.

I think in this market you can probably replace her fairly easily, especially if it is a live-in position.

StillSquiffy Wed 19-Aug-09 13:41:41

TBH if you don't sack her now you will have to soon, because she is unreliable and won't hesitate to be unreliable again. And next time you might not have breathing space.

In your situation I would have no qualms in seeking an alternative and giving her notice when I have found a replacement - so long as your current nanny has served less than a year up to the end of her notice period then you can sack for any reason. If she is over a year then you need to start a disciplinary route (or switch to nursery/CM, which would = redundancy situation). Tell her that not returning to work on 17th is unacceptable and that you are considering if this qualifies as gross negligence. Call her to a meeting to discuss and hear her side, and tell her you will respond formally within 28 days. Then you have breathing space to decide what to do/consider alternatives.

Just not turning up in itself might not be 'gross negligence'. but not reporting it in advance, and not having a reasonable justification for not turning up/notifying probably is, as is not making reasonable alternative efforts to come to work. Any country that is driveable is going to be within easyjet/ryanair reach. I would print out some fare quotes now to show how cheaply she could get back to UK if she wanted, just in case it gets messy legally. does your contract with her state categorically what is/isn't gross negligence, or is it left open?

HarrietTheSpy Wed 19-Aug-09 14:00:59

I would be FUMING. We have an after school nanny too and DD was in a holiday club for a week this year, we still very much needed her at the end of the day.

However - after school only nannies aren't all that easy to replace actually, even in this market. And you only have two weeks I presume before school starts, three tops.

Decline the request per Athene's suggestion. I can't see how it isn't gross misconduct if she decides not to comply and I can't imagine you would have to pay her anything for the time, esp if your contract says no unpaid leave. Put an ad out immediately for her replacement if she says no, then when she comes back give her her notice.

I hope she's been with you less than a year but I think you'll be okay whatever.

Millarkie Wed 19-Aug-09 17:01:27

I agree it's gross misconduct and also a bad indicator of her work ethic.
If you want a comparable - my first au pair went home for a week's holiday and missed her flight back due to an unexpected blizzard on the motorway (this was all over the German news, ungritted roads were an unheard-of atrocity ). She rang us the moment she realised she couldn't get to the plane on time, rang a friend who searched the internet for another flight whilst au pair still stuck in traffic jam. And ended up taking a 4 hour train journey across Germany to catch a (expensive) flight back to us the next day. - That is how you behave if you get 'stuck' on holiday.
(Oh and obviously we were overjoyed with au pair, paid her back for all her travel expenses and she got a larger bonus when she left us).

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