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retail-Christmas-no childcare

(69 Posts)
BabaMomma Fri 12-Dec-14 00:11:19

Hello! I'm a single mum of 2 (under 6yrs) working in retail. Working with current employer for over 6 years part time, 16 hrs a week over 3 fixed days, every week on same days, same time due to childcare arrangements. I have no relative living in the UK.
My normal working days fall on Christmas and Boxing Day but since I have no childcare (nursery closed until Friday, 2nd Jan) there is really no way I can go to work and it has nothing to do with my willingness. A friend who I would normally trust will be away visiting her family.
My manageress is refusing to accept my reasons and says that I have a contract stating I need to work certain hours each week. I also understand this but surely the welfare and safety of any child should be a priority. Contacted our HR department but they cannot give me any truly useful information. Can they make me work longer hours/day to make up for the hours I was away (again, extra costs of childcare) either before or after my absence?
Can someone please help me and give me some information? Something I can show her eg link, paragraph of law etc that I can refer to?
I pretty much love my job, I don't want to loose it but this really puts a huge amount of pressure on me.
Thank you!

Purplecircle Fri 12-Dec-14 00:16:24

Book holiday? Paid or unpaid? You're entitled to unpaid time off for parental leave until children are 5 I think but it has to be booked in advance

BabaMomma Fri 12-Dec-14 00:43:18

I would agree to take unpaid leave but refused due to the fact I must work 16 hrs/week. Holiday in retail at Christmas time never authorized, even a memo was sent out regarding.
Parental leave refused as it isn't covering my problem such as no childcare available. Those are for emergencies and it isn't. My management knows my problem for over 2 months now.
The "funny thing" is that I'm in trouble because I'm honest. If I call in sick or say one of my child is sick I would be covered.

HappyAsASandboy Fri 12-Dec-14 02:20:54

I don't think it will necessarily help this time, but I wanted to correct your manager's view of parental leave.

Parental leave is for precisely this sort of situation. It is for spending quality time with your children while they're young (under 5 years). There is information here - https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave/overview

While your manager is wrong about her view of parental leave being for emergencies, she will be entirely within her rights to ask you (ie tell you) to postpone the parental leave because a) you don't have time now to give the correct notice of the leave before christmas and b) because I am sure she can describe a business need specific to the dates you want.

Although I can't help with these christmas leave dates, I hope the correct info on parental leave is helpful. There is also a section on gov.uk about dependant emergency leave, which is what your manager is describing as parental leave.

I hope you find a solution for christmas.

flowery Fri 12-Dec-14 08:34:07

Are you really working Christmas Day OP?

What did you d last year for childcare if you've chosen a nursery which shuts over the Christmas period?

BabaMomma Fri 12-Dec-14 10:13:35

No, of course on the 25th we are closed but I'm expected to make up my hours on another day when I don't have nursery place booked. Eg I should work my normal working hours from Thursday 25th on a Saturday.
Last year I had my mum over but since I'm not her only child I can't have her every year. (the previous year I was on maternity leave and a year before I had a different manager who was more flexible)

ThinkIveBeenHacked Fri 12-Dec-14 10:16:08

Christmas and Boxing Days are Bank Holidays - if your store is closed on these two days you should be able to have them as a Bank Holiday - paid but not worked!

BabaMomma Fri 12-Dec-14 10:28:12

Well, I was told I have to. It is so confusing I really have no idea where I stand.

flowery Fri 12-Dec-14 10:30:19

Does your contract say you need to make up hours else where if your normal hours fall on a bank holiday?

That doesn't make sense, purely because presumably there is already cover for the rest of the week, as there normally would be in a week without bank holidays. confused

To be honest, as a general point I don't think it's unreasonable to expect staff who work in retail to ensure that whatever childcare provision they use doesn't cease over the busiest time of the year.

flowery Fri 12-Dec-14 10:31:48

No one is legally entitled to bank holidays off ThinkIve. As long as they get the statutory minimum holiday entitlement arrangements for bank holidays are purely contractual.

touchmybum1 Sun 14-Dec-14 18:39:21

In my retail shop, you don't have to make up the hours for christmas day if you a perm member of staff. This is because the store is closed and you cannot work even if you wanted to. You may be asked to re-arrange hours over christmas and would be expected to work the boxing day shift it its your normal working day. Would you be able to swap the shift with someone on the same department and work there shift, i.e before christmas. With us as long as your hours balance back to your contract in the 7 day period it's not a problem. Do you have an individual store fb page for your branch that you could ask for help from other staff? Worse case just email your regional manager and explain the situation and what you can do, won't win you any favours with the store mngment team but might get it sorted asap.

kilmuir Sun 14-Dec-14 18:44:42

So what does your manager really expect you to do? No way are you going to leave them at home on their own

Millerpup Sun 14-Dec-14 20:25:40

Everyone has a manager and i would again discuss the problem with childcare with yours giving her some options, unpaid leave emergency leave or holiday. If you still don't get a response other than the one you have been given document your issues and send to her senior manager and state that you have been unable to resolve the issue.
Your child care arrangements are not your employers priority they are yours you choose to work and public holidays are always an issue with childcare arrangements thats why you should always have a plan B and a plan C.
I find it hard to believe that you have no other childcare options other than the nursery or this one friend. What about a registered childminder or the childrens father does he have relatives ?

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Sun 14-Dec-14 20:33:46

Some people don't actually have help from family or friends, Miller.

What about their father? I paid one of the nursery nurses from the nursery one year so you can always ask about. Time off for dependents wouldn't apply here as it's not an emergency, you have time to sort something out. If you're in retail they won't allow you to take annual leave during December as this is their busiest period.

LIZS Sun 14-Dec-14 20:37:42

It depends how your contract is set up . For example, if you are allocated BH leave within your annual leave allowance you would need to redeem these hours or make up the equivalent time during that week. If the store is open on Boxing Day you cannot simply refuse to work without making alternative arrangements. Most retailers have a restriction on taking leave during December and January sale. Are there any nursery workers who would babysit for you ?

BabaMomma Fri 19-Dec-14 01:10:54

It is absolutely possible Millerpup as I have no family in the UK. With children you don't just give them to anyone. I did think of absolutely anyone else but as most of my friends are single or childless they do travel or go to parties etc.
The children's father is also at work.
Childminder could be an option but they cost a LOT (especially in London, during holiday). I work part time, financially making no sense but I want to work. I have tried my very best, I do many extra hours on my normal working days to help out as I have childcare until 5.45pm but in this instance I have no choice what so ever. I can honestly not afford an additional £50+ whatever amount for childcare.
I tried to explain and be sensible with my management with little success. And why? Because I was honest. If I just call in sick everything is fine. Who understands? confused

CaroleLJ Fri 19-Dec-14 12:22:23

I do understand. I was a single parent with young children and no family around. I worked in a very family unfriendly company at the time. It is very difficult.

However, your childcare is not your employer's problem. Christmas is the busiest time for retail and it just wouldn't be fair to favour parents and allow time off.

You have left it a bit late to sort out but I'd look at getting a childminder for the day. You might be lucky and find one who has spaces because parents are on leave for the festive season. Don't think of it as a high cost for the day - it's really an addition to your annual cost for childcare because your current arrangements don't give you the cover you need.

Good luck.

Quitelikely Fri 19-Dec-14 12:26:33

Contact ACAS. Google for number. They will tell you if you have any rights.

flowery Fri 19-Dec-14 13:12:41

Is a childminder really going to cost £50+ more than your normal nursery fees would be for the day? Have you even looked into it?

It is reasonable for the employer of individuals working in retail to expect staff to make childcare arrangements that fit with the job they have chosen - ie to ensure that childcare will be available for the days the individual will need to work.

That might be finding friends/family/whoever who are prepared to help, or it might mean putting a bit of money aside to pay a bit of a premium on childcare a couple of times a year. But it's your responsibility to organise a solution, and it's not as if Christmas has been sprung upon you.

Lorelei353 Fri 19-Dec-14 13:18:26

So your contract has 23 fixed days, every week on same days, same time" but now your shop is closed on those of those days and they're demanding you work on different days to make up for it? Is that what's happening?

That seems very unusual to expect you to be able to make yourself available on different days. As a part-timer I'd expect bank holidays, if they fall on your usual work day, to come out of your holiday allowance but I'm not sure they can make you work different days without agreement. Definitely seek proper advice from ACAS.

Lorelei353 Fri 19-Dec-14 13:18:41

3 fixed days. Not 23!

googoodolly Fri 19-Dec-14 14:13:31

Sorry, but retail at Christmas is notoriously busy and there's no way your manager will approve any holiday or time off. If you're contracted to work Fridays, you've got to work them, so you must have known for a while that you'll be expected to work Boxing Day this way.

You need to sort out some childcare. Isn't there a neighbour who could watch him, or a local teenager who wants some extra money to spend in the sales? I'm sorry but it's totally unfair to be expected to be allowed time off over Christmas in retail just because you're a lone parent. I understand it's hard but they can't make allowances for you.

BabaMomma Fri 19-Dec-14 18:38:22

Nursery fees paid no matter if it is Christmas or any bank holiday. If it falls on your usual nursery day you pay for it. Reason? The staff, bills etc needs to be paid regardless. It is like this everywhere. So yes, very easily it can cost me an additional £50+. I did do my research. For 7 hours (6 hrs work+commute) it isn't even expensive.
A teenager to look after my children? hmm No way! I'm sorry I heard far too many horror stories. Especially as I know no one that age. I would never ever leave my children with strangers.
I don't expect anyone to give me favors at work, I just wanted to know where I stand. My management was well aware of my situation for months. As mentioned above last year I did many many extra days, hours as I had my mum. I was able to do it. And I said it even then to remember next year (2014) I won't be able to do all hours etc.

flowery Fri 19-Dec-14 19:37:02

I would never ever leave my children with strangers.

Thing is, every child carer starts off as a stranger. The beauty of this happening at Christmas was that you knew months and months in advance so you had plenty of time to look into alternatives, put notices up in local colleges that do childcare courses, look on childcare.co.uk, asked on FB for recommendations, spoken to nursery workers who might be willing to babysit or might know someone, and if the result was a "stranger", you had plenty of time to get to know the person and make sure the children were familiar with him/her. There was no need to leave them with a "stranger".

You cannot argue with any reasonable credibility that with that amount of notice, you wouldn't be able to sort something out. The fact that you chose not to isn't your employers problem. As there is childcare available but you just can't afford the extra, I would suggest your best option is to scrape together the extra this time and treat it as a lesson learned.

I do have sympathy, it must be very hard being on your own. But it does sound like you've buried your head in the sand about this, told your employer you were having difficulties and expected them to accept it as their problem to solve.

beavington Fri 19-Dec-14 20:11:30

Eh? Dont know why OP is being given a hard time by some. Sounds like the OP has it tough and her employer are saying that they need her to make up her hours that she wouldve worked on Xmas day, another day. When there will presumably be enough people in doing their usual hours, plus other staff members who were supposed to work christmas day, yet they still wont accept her request for UNPAID leave. Harsh. Retail is shit people get fucked over so much.

Oh and all this 'you chose the job', retail is a lot of peoples only option.

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