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Work hosting an 'Away Day' whilst I'm on Mat Leave - advice?

(25 Posts)
WiiUnfit Fri 26-Aug-11 23:22:14

My work are having an 'Away Day' while I'm still on Maternity Leave & I've had an email (albeit a blanket one to the whole team) stating that everyone is expected to attend. I initially emailed HR back to say my attendance would depend on when it would be (I was recovering from an EMCS), where it would be (I don't drive) & how long the day would be IYSWIM (DS is EBF).

I have since had confirmation that it is in a few weeks & I am pretty much okay now so no healing issues. It's being held about an hour away from my home so DP will have to drive me there & the day is 9am - 5pm (I cannot do this!) HR said it would be good if I could attend 'a couple of hours at least' so I asked which part of the day they would like me to attend, they have simply replied 'the afternoon'.

So what do I do? Do I try to express enough milk for the whole afternoon, risk DS not taking a bottle & take my manual pump with me so I don't end up engorged or have DP take me & stay nearby with DS incase he needs feeding? Tell them I can't do it? So far I have just suggested attending for 2.5hrs for the afternoon activities & debrief type stuff.

Tbh, I just don't want to go. sad

Casmama Fri 26-Aug-11 23:28:06

I am amazed that they are trying to get you to go. I would be tempted to tell them to fuck off but I appreciate this may not best serve your future career plans. I hope someone comes along who understands the legalities of it but wonder if it is worth speaking to your boss to understand why they are so keen for you to come to this if, as it sounds, it is some sort of jolly.

TheMitfordsMaid Fri 26-Aug-11 23:32:25

I would wholeheartedly embrace the idea, accept gracefully but have a last minute mastitis problem requiring antibiotics and a GP appointment. No one is going to question you too closely on that.

In all seriousness, you cannot be compelled to go, so don't if you don't want to. My scenario above might show the right amount of willing, however.

ZhenXiang Fri 26-Aug-11 23:38:12

Just don't go, you are on Maternity Leave and as such are not required to be at work unless you want to.

You can work up to 10 'keeping in touch days' only if you and your employer agree and it is up to you to agree with your employer what will be done on those days and how much pay you will receive.

tethersend Fri 26-Aug-11 23:53:02

DS will be 'ill' that day, I guarantee it wink

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 27-Aug-11 00:15:00

You don't need to go, it was just a blanket email as you said. You are on Maternity Leave and are therefore not at work for a valid reason.
So it's up to you if you want to go or not.

KatieMiddleton Sat 27-Aug-11 00:25:47

If you don't want to go then don't. They are right to try to include you (you're still an employee and part of the team even if you are away for a few months) but you are also entitled to decline if you so wish.

Would you go if you could take the baby too?

GwendolineMaryLacey Sat 27-Aug-11 02:35:53

Say no if you don't want to go. Keeping in touch days are entirely voluntary on both sides and a refusal to attend cannot negatively affect you. If it was 6 months down the line you might think differently but it sounds like your ds is very young so why would you want to faff around trying to sort out his feeds at this stage if you don't want to?

WiiUnfit Sat 27-Aug-11 22:03:22

Sorry for the late reply - been busy cooking chicken casserole, curry & other goodies to freeze today! Thank you for all of your input!

The day is for teambuilding & involves some sort of treasure trail? It does sound a bit of a jolly, coffee then a briefing then lunch then teambuilding exercises then coffee, then team awards & photos... you get the gist.

I am glad to be still included of course, but it is just not practical at all & there doesn't seem to be much understanding on their part. There has been no mention of it being a KIT day so I'm guessing they're planning on not paying me for it, which makes it more annoying tbh as DP will have to take a day off to take me there & pick me up again, it's an hour away & of course there's the petrol costs as well as the faff involved.

I had a chat with DP about it today & said I'm thinking of ringing HR & explaining that although I feel it would be beneficial, it isn't practical so I will have to miss it. I'm a bit worried about them getting a bit shirty with me if I do though. I know there's no legal obligation but they may be very negative towards me if I didn't IYSWIM?

Casmama, me too. I was really surprised.

Mitford & tethers, I'm hoping it won't have to come to white lies, but thank you for the inspiration just in case! ;)

Harriet, I have spoken to HR since their blanket email which is when they said it would be good if I could attend at least some of it so the expectation is there. The blanket email did say "everyone is expected to attend".

Katie, possibly as it would make it a lot easier. Although DP would still have to take me there so it still disrupts his day too.

Gwendoline, DS is 11 weeks & still very much fed on demand, he has started sleeping 6hr stretches at night so tends to cluster feed a bit through the day which makes it awkward to go anywhere without him, plus, I don't think I'd want to (he is pfb blushsmile)

WiiUnfit Sat 27-Aug-11 22:06:30

Sorry ZhenXiang, I didn't mean to leave you out there confused the KIT part of my last post was in response to yours!

BerylStreep Sat 27-Aug-11 23:56:01

No way would I be going, given you have an 11 week old baby. I second mitfordmaid's idea - show willing, but last minute pull out. Honestly, team-building and treasure hunt when you are post-natal, sleep-deprived and bf a tiny baby? I think not.

lollystix Sun 28-Aug-11 23:56:41

Do any of the team have kids themselves? I work in quite a male, committed area where everyone is falling over themselves to demonstrate 'presenteeism'' but there are women in the team with kids. If I suggested coming in for such an event with a 3 monther who was obviously not present himself but on the boob they would think I was bonkers. Is it more you perceive you're expected there? I honestly think most folk would be amazed if you attended. I'm sure it was a blanket email written for the benefit of the majority of staff who are not on mat leave.

WiiUnfit Mon 29-Aug-11 10:43:39

Beryl, I was surprised too tbh.

lollystix, yes I'm sure it's not me perceiving it. After the blanket email I responded to say my attendance would be decided based on what it was / where it was / how long it was .etc, HR responded saying they would like me to attend some of the day at least so when I asked which bit they would like me to attend thinking they would suggest a couple of hours, they replied 'the afternoon'. A few have kids but only one has recently had children IYSWIM? I'm not sure if she it also expected to attend or even if she's back from Maternity Leave already, I don't know her personally as we were originally all based in 2 locations, hense the big emphasis now on us being 'one team'.

planetpotty Mon 29-Aug-11 10:50:05

If youre going to work you should get paid - jolly or not its for the benefit of work.

Im really surprised your work are being like this - is it your boss who wants you to go or just some battle axe in HR with no kids and a chip on her shoulder about mat leave?

My work would never ever do anything like this - was right of them to email you to keep you involved but should have had a bit on the end saying obviously your on mat leave so not expecting to attend would just be nice to see you blah blah blah.

Mind boggles what some people think is acceptable!

AMumInScotland Mon 29-Aug-11 10:56:34

Instead of HR, would it be worth contacting your actual manager to talk about this? Where I work, HR wouldn't actually understand the format of the day or which bits would be most useful to have you attend, but the manager (or next one up) would be easier to discuss it with and could say "It'd be lovely to see you for an hour or so after lunch" or whatever. And then the actual manager would understand that you would like to be involved, but new baby etc makes it difficult and you're trying to find a good solution.

amistillsexy Mon 29-Aug-11 11:00:36

I went on one of these while BF and it was great in the end (had the same feelings as you beforehand though smile )

It helped that DS2 was already taking a bottle of ebm, so I left him with DH and some abm.

I arranged it as a KIT day (for the cash!) and explained that I would need to have a room booked in the hotel for me to use to express (the event was being held in a hotel-would not have been as comfortable if it was in an outdoor activity centre or something!).

So, on the day, I arrived as early as I could make it, said 'hello' to my team, then me and my mate went to find my room (I 'needed' her to carry my stuff, didn't I? wink ).

I took part in the meetings, but 'needed' several breaks in my room to express-which included a nice cup of tea and the TV, of course! At lunchtime I avoided all the networking shit and went for a little sleep!

To be honest, it was lovely! A nice little break from the norm, and a chance to see my work mates in a relaxed environment. I'd shown willing,a nd got loads of browney (sp?) points for making the 'effort' to go when I was so obviously still feeding regularly!

grin

Remember, by the time the day comes, your baby will be over 3 months and feeding will be really settled. You can a lways arrange for DH to come straight away if you need him (mine had to take a day's leave-downside!).

KatieMiddleton Mon 29-Aug-11 11:24:13

I had a colleague who won an award thing. She took the baby with her and brought a friend who looked after the baby while she went off to work and did what needed doing but nipped back to feed/check on baby.

Another colleague brought his wife and new baby on an induction course so he could still help in the evenings and she wouldn't be left alone with new baby for a week.

Another had work pay for a day nanny to help with the baby at a conference.

There are more examples but ultimately it matters not a jot if you don't want to go. In this scenario I would ring you boss (it's polite) and explain you wanted to come but that the demands of a very small baby would be disruptive to their day so you are declining this time but would like to be asked in future. Then email HR (don't enter into a discussion) saying "thank you for asking, much appreciated blah blah blah but unfortunately, on this occasion due to the needs of your small baby at this time and other practical considerations you will not be attending but that you would like to be asked to future events/team building days/conferences etc. Then thank them for being such a good HR dept for remembering to include you (a few brownie points at HR never did anyone any harm) and end the email.

Unless you have decided you do want to go in which case set out your terms and demands and see what they say.

amistillsexy Mon 29-Aug-11 11:35:50

KatieMiddleton Thanks for the subtle spelling correction. That's what I used to do for my Y3 class grin.

I think all the options KM gives are worth connsidering. You don't have to go if you don't want to. I just wanted to point out that it might be 'doable' and enjoyable!

KatieMiddleton Mon 29-Aug-11 11:45:34

blush I hadn't even noticed! Sorry wasn't trying to nit pick your post (especially when my own typing is somewhat ropey) I overuse the term a lot.

I thought you made a very sensible point smile

amistillsexy Mon 29-Aug-11 11:54:26

No need to blush. I wasn't being sarky! I really couldn't work out the spelling! grin

amistillsexy Mon 29-Aug-11 11:55:29

Also just noticed the other spelling mistakes in my posts. Time to get off MN I think!
Good luck, OP, whatever you decide!
smile

breatheslowly Mon 29-Aug-11 12:23:30

I think you need to put your foot down and get what ever you would most like out of it, whether that be not going or going for a bit but being paid as a KIT day (for the hours you do). Bear in mind that your KIT days can't be used within a certain number of weeks of giving birth and if you are currently on enhanced maternity pay then you probably wouldn't get much out of it. I would probably just send an email either stating what I was going to do as if they had offered options. Or if you want to go for a couple of hours:

"Thank you for inviting me to the away day. I can confirm that I will be able to attend from 3pm to 5pm to fit around DS's feeding schedule. Please can you let me know how my pay for this Keeping In Touch day is calculated." (Not, will you pay me?)

It is really hard for them to go back on your sensible assumptions.

An0therName Tue 30-Aug-11 09:32:02

in my last job I would have taken the baby but it was pretty family friendly place - I think I would get DP to take you and baby for the afternoon - but he looks after baby but means you can feed before and after - and at that age I wouldn't have wanted to be far from the baby - does baby take a bottle - that woud help although at say 14 weeks most babies will go a couple of hours without a feed - you won't get engorged in a couple hours either
I quite understand why you don't want to go - but actually after 2 mat leaves its much better to have some contact with work - I assume you are planning to return - and away days are a good way to do it

BerylStreep Tue 30-Aug-11 15:24:46

Wii - let us know what you decide.

WiiUnfit Tue 30-Aug-11 16:10:29

I have emailed HR today & asked if the time I have agreed to attend could be treated as a KIT day (not a full day obviously) as this will make it a lot easier financially for me to attend as DP will have to take the afternoon off, plus the petrol costs. I also think that's fair given that everyone else will be paid IYSWIM?

I think DP & I have decided that he will take me, I'll feed DS before I go in & DP & DS will stick around nearby in case DS needs me, or 'needs me' if I don't want to stay. ;)

An0therName, DS has taken a bottle once when I was at the dentists so I may take one with me just in case.

I'm quite nervous about it if I'm honest, I have no idea why though!

Thank you all so much for all of your help, you have all given me a lot to think about & a bit more confidence in asking for KIT pay! I will let you know if my KIT request has been granted!

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