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Help & Advice needed please for an unhappy mum

(11 Posts)
ConcernedEmployer Sat 27-Aug-11 01:22:13


I have come to this site to try and get some support, mainly an understanding of, as I have never had to deal with this before. One of my employees (a mum), her eldest child has just started primary school. She is having a hard time dealing with this and I believe that she is suffering from depression. Until her eldest started school she was willing to work (she works part time 24 hours a week) to work when needed but now she does not want to work outside of school times and wants to spend more time at home with her family. We have agreed a plan to enable her to do this and I am suppporting her as best I can, making allowances for late arrivals etc and just to be clear from the start - I do not wish to lose her as she is a valued employee.

My questions are:
How common is this - i have little experience of this and would like a wider view from people who may have experienced this
How can I help her - we talk well together, i am just concerned that I am "missing" something obvious and would like to know if I am missing something
Is this something that will change - I assume that in most cases it does but even if it doesn't, I will support her, regardless of costs, as she has provided many years of loyal service and I feel that i would be letting her and her family down if I didn't

Apologies for such a long post, but as you can see by the time of posting, this is really affecting me - I am not sleeping well becasue I cant stop thinking aout her problems,, just a bit of advice please...

Many thanks,

solidgoldbrass Sat 27-Aug-11 01:29:34

You are her employer, not her mother, mental health care worker or lawyer. It sounds like you have been very fair and reasonable in allowing her to adjust her hours, but if she is fucking about and not pulling her weight, you need to consider both your other employees (who may understandably become resentful if they are expected to fit around her needs all the time) and your business.
However, is it a matter of practicalities ie now the eldest is at primary school, s/he is too old for the childcare the mother was previously using and therefore th mother cannot be as flexible as before? When my DS started school I had more free time but more rigid hours of it IYSWIM.

Whatisitthistime Sat 27-Aug-11 07:26:55

Has her child started this term? i.e. last couple of weeks?

If so, it can be a bit of a nightmare, just getting your timings right, knowing when to leave home where to park at school etc.

If too early it's a long wait in the car park. 5 minutes later can find you've ended up miles from school.

Also her child may be finding it exhausting as many of them do, and she is wanting to be home with him

Doing extra hours and flexibility that was a perk she gave to the business, the fact she doesn't want it now shouldn't impact how she's treated at work.

Arriving late needs to be addressed, if it has only been the last week give a time frame you are happy with - 'I understand it's tricky working out timings, 2 weeks then we need to be back on track with correct arrival'. Or alternatively could you make her official start time later e.g. 9.15 as opposed to 9.

ellisbell Sat 27-Aug-11 07:41:36

it's not unusual for mothers to feel bad when their baby starts school. It's the first time you have handed your child over to someone you haven't chosen. (You may have a choice of school but not teacher). It's also the first step to independence and you worry about how happy the child will be. Deciding you want to enjoy more of the few years you have with younger children isn't too surprising.

In a few weeks her child is likely to be more settled. She presumably needs the money and won't want to lose her job completely. If you can adjust starting times easily then do so, perhaps letting her have a shorter lunch break - flexible working is a great way to retain staff if it's feasible in your business.

DialMforMummy Sat 27-Aug-11 08:08:02

If she suffers from depression, there is not a fat lot you can do.
Give her a few weeks but if this continues, for the sake of your business and the other workers, you will have to toughen up and take action. Remember also that the allowances you are making for her you should be able to offer them to the other employees.
You sound like a very nice boss.

ConcernedEmployer Sat 27-Aug-11 14:02:52

Thanks for all of the feedback, some of it has been helpful - just to clarify something I missed on the original post......she is my only employee...DOH, apologies for this.

Bit of feedback on the above - she is not f***ing about - angry
I am really concerned about her - she has worked for me for 15 years
Her eldest has just started school in the last couple of weeks
The arriving late has been addressed and she now keeps me updated on a daily bbasis with numerous phone calls - we meet face to face at least once a week - would there be any value in more face to face time??
I have no experience of the impact of children starting school and can't do the "children thing" myself due to an issue when I was younger so it is any further detail around this I am looking for -

Thanks again for the feedback - anything else would be much appreciated.


Lizcat Sat 27-Aug-11 16:22:53

As a Mum and an employer of other mums I think you need to sort out exactly what you can accommodate in the business.
Can you manage with her cutting her hours to only school hours and does this include not working in the school holidays? As really she is asking for a flexible working arrangement which she is entitled to do once a year. Personally I would agree these new terms in writing as a flexible working arrangement so that you both know where you stand.
I am also very loyal to my staff and support them a lot, however, you do have to separate your business needs and her family needs.

Dozer Sat 27-Aug-11 21:15:59

What is her current working pattern? Did you mean that she previously worked extra (paid or unpaid) overtime outside her normal hours or days? Do you need this flexibility?

School hours are a nightmare!

She may be able to offer extra hours during school time? Or does she have younger dc?

Dozer Sat 27-Aug-11 21:17:02

And by "late", do you mean 5 minutes, and at what time? Do you need her to start at a certain time for business reasons, or would a later start time be OK?

solidgoldbrass Sun 28-Aug-11 01:14:16

I think the key thing to remember, as her employer, is that while you should be a little flexible with her at a difficult time, you need to make sure that you are equally flexible with other staff and that you do not let her needs overwhelm the needs of your business.

marriedinwhite Sun 28-Aug-11 19:25:41

Her child has started school - presumably he or she is rising five. It is the biggest, life changing event he has had to face and when he is not at school, he needs his mum to be there for support and continuity and for confidence.

As her employer you need to set out what your business can support. You need also to be aware that your employee is entitled to make a flexible working request (as is any carer with children under 16 or elderly relatives). Providing there are so substantial business reasons (there are 8 in total) to refuse such a request, employers should comply. I think you should google "flexible working requests", come to a reasonable understanding with your employee where you both agree parameters and where she is accommodated to work during school hours, ie, between drop off and pick up time (or to an alternative pattern). What is agreed is generally put in place for twelve months before an altered pattern can be requested.

I think it would be helpful to put this in place for her and also to set out that having put such an agreement in place, you would like punctuality and agreed hours in return, notwithstanding sickness, etc.. I imagine the longest she will feasibly be able to work is about 5.5 hours a day. You might want to let her work 5.5 a day, ie, 27.5 per week so she can earn 1/2 a day in week in hand for extra time in the school holidays.

Hope that helps - it's the legal position.

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