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Can my employer force me to go on a residential course?

(67 Posts)
Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 17:29:55

I'm due to back to work after maternity leave in September.

Due to the nature of my job I have to retrain as if I were a new starter. The course is 4 weeks long and full time. I'm going to be part time when I return so have been prepared to cover extra childcare for the duration of the course. Myself and my manager were expecting the course to be relatively local, within an easy enough commute, however the dates have been released and the local one isn't running on the dates I need, not sure when the next one is. I will have to go to London which is not commutable so I will have to be residential.

There is just no way I'm prepared to leave my 1 year old for 4 weeks, only seeing him at weekends.

My question is, can they make me go? I don't know what the alternative is though. The only thing would be to wait for the next local course, which could be months but I wouldn't be able to do my job until I've been on it.

Any suggestions welcome, or does anyone know what my rights are to be able to say no I'm not going?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 18:20:50

Anyone about?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 27-Jul-15 18:50:21

Are you able to work in your role if you don't attend the course?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 18:51:57

No. So I really do t know what I'm going to do.
I could step down for a while into a role which doesn't require the course until the local one comes up. But no idea if they'll let me do that.

Rudawakening Mon 27-Jul-15 18:54:57

Is attendance on the course in your contract? If so they could hold you in breech of contract, other than that surely they would have to find an alternative until a local course came up.

RedKites Mon 27-Jul-15 18:56:21

Could you afford to take unpaid leave until the next local course came up, if your work were prepared to agree to that? Presumably there are greater costs for them too, sending you on a residential course, so they might be prepared to be flexible?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:00:37

Not sure if it's in my contract. The annoying thing is I've been doing the bloody job for 11 years, plus went through additional training just before I went off on maternity leave due. All I'd need is a few days to catch up on what's changed and refresh my memory but due to policy if I've been off for more than 9 months I have to do the full course and training from scratch. I wouldn't be able to be signed off as able to work until I've done that. The job is heavily regulated.

DragonMamma Mon 27-Jul-15 19:01:53

If your employment is based on you attending this course then I don't see what the alternative is, but to go?.

If you can step down in to a lesser role in the interim would you be prepared to reduce your salary accordingly?

If I were in your position I would suck it up and go personally. Could you not travel down Monday morning and come back Friday straight after the course finishes for the week?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:02:10

No sure if we could afford that red most of my savings have been eaten up by having the last few months of unpaid maternity. Could poss scrape by. Good idea and food for thought.

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:04:04

dragon I don't know if I could do that to DS (or me) it's going to hard enough sending him to nursery, let alone not seeing him all week. I think I'd have to travel down on the Sunday as it's about 4/5 hours from where I am.

fizzicles Mon 27-Jul-15 19:04:35

Are you in a union? If so, I'd ask them for advice. It seems fairly unreasonable to expect you to work away for 4 weeks with such a young child.

GeorgeYeatsAutomaticWriter Mon 27-Jul-15 19:06:03

If it's a one-off and is essential to your working, then I'd go.

Can you leave your DS with his dad?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:13:13

Yes he'd be with his dad and I'm sure tbh they would be fine but I just cannot comprehend leaving him for that length of time. It makes me anxious thinking about leaving him in a nursery during the day.
Plus obviously don't know how he'd be seeing as I've been there with him 24/7 since the day he was born.

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:14:21

Yes fizz I'm in a union I think I'll call them tomorrow.

Rockchick1984 Mon 27-Jul-15 19:15:53

If there is a local course earlier, could you go back to work sooner? Or alternatively do the first 2 weeks as KIT days locally, then you would only have to do 2 weeks in London when you return (If they will let you split the training like that)?

Failing that, could your OH or a relative travel down to London with you to care for the baby, so you are only separated during the day?

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 19:23:22

There is actually a local course in a couple of weeks, but that won't work as there are a couple of weeks worth of pre course work I'd have to do first so it would mean starting work next week. As well as being totally mentally unprepared for that, I can't arrange the childcare at such short notice.

Can't take any KIT days as I am technically already back and taking accrued annual leave.

caroldecker Mon 27-Jul-15 19:56:52

But if you have already done the work and the course is just a technical requirement, would the pre-course work actually take you a couple of weeks?

AalyaSecura Mon 27-Jul-15 20:18:14

This issue must have come up before - has no one ever been off on maternity leave before?! Good idea to talk to union - how about HR? I work in a heavily regulated industry too, and here HR would be looking to intervene on an issue that almost seems designed deliberately to make life difficult for women returning from mat leave.

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 20:18:32

Not sure what it entails tbh. My manager had had it planned so that I was going to do 3 weeks pre course then the course (before we knew it was in London)
I can't imagine it'll take that long, I think again it is procedure.

Even if I could do the earlier course, I can't arrange childcare for mid August at such short notice. Need to use a combination of nursery, mil and DP taking annual leave.

I deliberately took as much maternity leave as possible as I want to stay with my son for as long as I can so the thought of going back early is horrible. I have been looking forward to having the rest of the time off and have made plans in August. In an ideal world I wouldn't go back to work at all. This has just made my anxiety about going back 10x worse.

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 20:21:35

Aalya my colleague came back from mat leave last year and she was lucky enough that the dates of the local course fitted in.

There are not many other mums that I know of that do the job tbh. This is probably why!

WipsGlitter Mon 27-Jul-15 20:27:25

I would ask about alternative roles until the local course comes up.

Eminybob Mon 27-Jul-15 20:46:02

That seems like the most realistic option to me. DP has just suggested it too.

Just don't know if my manager will agree it.

As it is it was going to take 2-3 months to get me up and running again due to pre-course work, the course, and then she needs to do observations to sign me off before I can work unaccompanied!

The guy who is my maternity cover was supposed to be covering me until I was back up and running but he has stepped down early as he didn't like the role, and another guy on my team has just been suspended I have found out today so they need me back ASAP really!

MaybeDoctor Mon 27-Jul-15 20:48:05

Can you take your baby with you and arrange temporary childcare where the course is?

That could work.

AalyaSecura Mon 27-Jul-15 20:48:29

If they want you back on time that much, can they instigate setting up a local course at the time you need it? Can the dates be influenced? Especially if others are waiting too.

IAmNotDarling Mon 27-Jul-15 20:50:54

Can you tell us what your job is? It might lead to some solutions or others experience in the same profession.

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