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disciplinary for child being ill

(30 Posts)
mummykbp Mon 29-Dec-14 15:34:48

Have any working mums out there been given a disciplinary for having time off while their child's been ill?
I was given one coming back to work after my son had chicken pox. He obviously wasn't allowed at his childminders and, being a single mum, I had to stay off until he got better.
Has any one else experienced being treated unfairly at work because you have a child?
I feel my employers have slowly pushed me down to the bottom of the barrel and are trying to think of any excuse to sack me, since I've come back from maternity leave.

MrsTawdry Mon 29-Dec-14 19:55:04

I may get slated for this but I think all parents need emergency childcare in place for these times. Obviously if a child is REALLY in in hospital then that's different but you can't really expect to stay off work everytime your child is ill surely?

Wolfiefan Mon 29-Dec-14 19:59:03

That's helpful Tawdry.
What about those of us who have friends who work or look after their own kids and family who work or live far away.
OP check your workplace policy on absence. Are they following it?
I used to share absence with DH. We would take it in turns to take time off.

KissMyFatArse Mon 29-Dec-14 20:02:19

Your allowed a reasonable time off parental leave (unpaid) for children's welfare/sickness etc and if your only parent then as long as you can justify then they cannot, as far as I know, penalise you for this. Unless you take the piss of course

AlpacaMyBags Mon 29-Dec-14 20:05:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WipsGlitter Mon 29-Dec-14 20:10:28

We would have to take annual leave or unpaid leave to cover something like that.

LynetteScavo Mon 29-Dec-14 20:15:38

None if my emergency back up people can look after a child with chicken pox or vomiting....I'm lucky that work allows me 5 days a year for crisis, but that won't cover chicken pox.

funchum8am Mon 29-Dec-14 20:25:05

I am not a lawyer but I gather from my workplace that no matter how valid your reasons for being off work (including your own illness) at some point an employer can discipline you or let you go if you are not able to do the job reliably. It seems unfair but if that wasn't the case there would be even more discrimination against women of childbearing age and people with health problems.

It must be incredibly hard to cope as a LP in this situation but I suspect your company may be allowed to do this. Are you in a union who you could ask for advice from?

BIWI Mon 29-Dec-14 20:27:56

You would be better off posting on the legal board rather than Bloggers' chat. (Why did you choose to post here, by the way? confused)

meandjulio Mon 29-Dec-14 20:34:37


Get some ammunition on your side. Call ACAS helpline, ring your union if you have one (probably worth joining one now if not, maybe they won't be able to help you this time but if the company have got you in their sights, it could be worth it). Get copies of the sick leave policy, your contract and the disciplinary policy and make sure they are following it. If you're not in a union, look to take someone - anyone - with you to take notes - a friend, a volunteer, a benefits adviser, anyone you can find. Most importantly, make a plan; what about if, God forbid, you couldn't work again for a further long period in the near future? What would you do? That way you can say 'In the future I would need to take a day off as carer's leave, but after this I would be able to have emergency childcare in place'. At this stage it hardly matters if it would actually work or not. Do you have anyone at all you could ask? A friend, a sister, a cousin? Then do you have details of a backup childminder, for example, if your usual childminder broke her leg?? Show that you have thought about possible options. Consider whether you could offer taking unpaid leave (most companies don't like it, I know).

immortalwife Mon 29-Dec-14 20:35:49

I struggle as my husband has crohns disease, so if he is more unwell than usual and I cannot get any other childcare, I have to have time off to care the pair of them. Its reported as emergency domestic absence, and there is a form detailing my husbands illness and the ways it affects him and me, on my file. The form also details my childcare options and reasons why they may be unavailable.

Find out why your work have no contingency for emergency domestic absence in their absence log.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Mon 29-Dec-14 21:14:21

The law does allow time off in an Emergency to sort out alternative arrangements for someone you care for (partner, child, dependent parent), but I do remember a legal case where the claimants child had chicken pox so she took all of the time off (a couple of weeks I think) and lost her job. The tribunal ruled that she should have taken a couple of days to find alternative childcare so her complaint wasn't upheld. It's a nightmare trying to work as a lone parent, especially when there's no back up. I've lost a job because there was no one else to care for ds when he was unwell (this is why I went back to Uni and studied Law!).

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 30-Dec-14 08:51:05

Morning all,

We've moved this over to employment issues now.

Millerpup Tue 30-Dec-14 10:27:23

Joining a union will not assist you in this as you have to have paid fees for at least three months before you can get any help.
Your employers sickness policy relates to your employment and even though you have taken time off for child care issues beyond your control this will go against you and your employment as sickness leave, and the company sickness disciplinary process will apply. Its a case of treating every employee (those with children and those without ) fairly and in line with company policy.
I suspect this is not the first time you have phoned in sick as companies very rarely discipline on the first offence.
Sometimes it is best to take holiday in cases of extreme emergency.

GritStrength Tue 30-Dec-14 10:47:26

There is some info here on time off for dependants

But essentially this leave is to make arrangements and not just to be off for as long as necessary. Although I do very much get the point that in practice there was probably a limited amount you could do if you don't have any family help. In future you could look at trying to use parental leave on which info is here

It would be worth your speaking to ACAS and going through the facts of what happened.

prh47bridge Tue 30-Dec-14 11:52:34

As others have said, you can take emergency leave to take your child to the doctor and arrange childcare. Whilst there is no set amount of time for this it is generally expected that parents should only need a day or two for this. If you are unable or unwilling to arrange childcare you must take annual leave or, if you are eligible, unpaid parental leave to cover the remainder of your absence.

Obviously I don't know about any other issues you are having with your employer but on this particular issue I am afraid they are not treating you unfairly. Your expectations are unrealistic. Very few employers allow parents unlimited time off to care for a sick child.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Tue 30-Dec-14 13:11:52

It's really, really tough to be a working lone parent with no help. You're the only one who can take time off work to look after a vomiting/sick child as there is no one else. Little ones at nursery or who are cared for by a childminder do pick up a heck of a lot of bugs and if there isn't anyone else around the brunt of the care and falls on the RP and they are the only person who takes time off to care for them. It's unfair, but from an employers prospective, it's that employee who can't be relied upon and it causes problems for them when the employee calls in sick, again. 2 weeks off with a child who has chicken pox is pushing it as far as they are concerned but they will understand that you have no choice.

Are you able to use your childcare tax credits to hire a nanny rather than a childminder? Some nannies won't mind caring for a sick child so it will limit the amount of time you need to take off work.

Fozzleyplum Tue 30-Dec-14 13:30:39

Here's the legal position (am employment solicitor):

You are allowed a very limited amount of (unpaid) time off to make arrangements to have a sick child cared for, but you are not entitled as of right to time off, paid or unpaid, to look after the child until it's better. This probably translates as about 1 day.

If you take off an unreasonable amount of time even on this basis, you could be disciplined and eventually dismissed with notice. There might be some leeway due to a parent with a disabled child, but that's about it.

The law expects employers to bear with employees in a real emergency, but employers are entitled to expect employees to have contingency plans in place so that they are not absent each time a dependent relative is ill.

If however there is evidence that you are being censured for this type of absence more than other employees who need time off, this might be discriminatory.

I act for both employers and employees, so see both sides of this problem. Whilst it does not make life easy for employees with children, arguably it is not reasonable to expect employers (and other employees) to suffer regular or protracted disruption to their work to accommodate family arrangements. If for example a couple co parent a child and the employer of one parent enforces a strict policy about this, the less strict employer of the other parent will inevitably end up suffering the disruption.

Employers are also advised to resist relaxing the rule for one employee because this creates a risk of creating a cause of action of another employee is treated less favourably.

I realise this is a bit of a "dry" answer, but I hope it helps.

atticusclaw Tue 30-Dec-14 13:35:45

Also an employment lawyer and Fozzley is correct. You are only allowed to take the time need to make arrangements for the care of your child. So you are not permitted by law to take time off to sit at home looking after your child if they are ill with chickenpox. You can take an unpaid afternoon/morning/couple of hours off to collect them from school and ring around to get someone to look after them.

Sorry, it's not easy but you need alternative arrangements in place for when your child is ill.

Fozzleyplum Tue 30-Dec-14 13:39:11

I ought to add that whilst many employers will allow employees to take holiday to cover such eventualities, they don't have to agree to allow an employee to take holiday at short or no notice. The issue isn't always pay, it's the disruption that unplanned absence can cause.

LizzieMint Tue 30-Dec-14 13:50:14

This happened to my friend when she first went back to work after maternity leave. Her daughter was taken ill on the second day back and she was then off for most of two weeks looking after her (she was in hospital for a while). On her first day back at work, she got a written warning. She promptly found another job and left.

Pengyquin Tue 30-Dec-14 13:54:06

I have no emergency childcare. No relatives. No close friends who don't work. Hence, now I have two children, it is highly unlikely I will go back to work until they're school age. Nursery aged children pick up all sorts.

People who have family close by, really don't understand how difficult it is for those who don't.

Rednosedevdil Tue 30-Dec-14 14:01:10

A slight side issue, but I manage a large team and frequently have employees ringing in "sick" when their DC are unwell. Our company has a policy for managing emergency child are through a combination of compassionate leave / unpaid leave / annual leave depending upon the particular situation, and so the absence can usually be managed. But staff don't always understand, despite my best attempts to explain that they can't take sick leave if they are not ill themselves.
Ringing in sick when you are not entitled to could be a disciplinary issue.

MarjorieMelon Tue 30-Dec-14 14:09:31

It is a nightmare. The legal situation is as the lawyers on this thread have already outlined. Practically it comes down to the relationship between employer and employee.

When I was in between jobs I worked part time in a low paid position. I was pregnant and had the pregnancy from hell with hospital admissions, then my eldest child got ill and had 3 consecutive weeks off school. There was nobody apart from me to care for him. Dh was working 200 miles away and his salary was needed to pay the bills. I was invited to a disciplinary hearing. I resigned, it was just a part time position to tide me over and I didn't want a bad record so I left.

In the job I'm in now I can work from home and my boss trusts me and let's me work at home in the evening if required. It has opened my eyes to how much harder things are when you are in a low paid low skilled job. When I was in the short term low paid role people just wanted me to do the job without hassle and thought that I was pulling a fast one.

Rafflesway Tue 30-Dec-14 17:19:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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