Mandatory training course - discrimination?

(30 Posts)
Isleepinahedgefund Sat 01-Jun-19 16:58:01

I’ve just moved to a new department in the Civil Service, into a new profession. I’d welcome some input as to whether this could constitute some sort of discrimination.

I’m expected to attend a week long, 9:30 to 4:30 training course away from my office. They don’t offer it any other way, or any other formal training for the profession. I’ve had to cancel attending twice already because of childcare.

I’m a single parent and my access to childcare is limited - it’s a massive juggling act as it is (and yes she does see her dad and yes he is pulling his weight, but he can’t just change his work up because I need to go on a course). Because of this, I work three days in the office and two at home. I can’t get to the office before 9:30 on two of those days because of my childcare start times, and the training venue is a further 20 mins walk past my office. I can’t get childcare on the two days I work at home (all full) and anyway I’d still be late to the course and have to leave at 3:30 to get home in time to collect.

For the record, many people have a comparable commute - the office is in Westminster so no one lives that near.

I raised this with the manager and was told he was sure I could “juggle things around” so I could attend, and that I really wouldn’t get on career wise if I don’t. I want to challenge the organisation on the course format as I can’t help feeling the current arrangement means that it will be women with children who often won’t be able to attend because they work part time etc. I don’t see why it couldn’t be done over five weeks one day a week or something like that.

Am I on to something? Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
flowery Sat 01-Jun-19 18:41:18

A one-off training course? No I don’t think you are “on to something” really in terms of it being discrimination not to offer a variety of different times/days. Many people would find it harder to make alternative childcare arrangements one day a week five weeks in a row than to sort something out for a chunk of days as a one-off. If the course is 5 Mondays in a row and a woman normally doesn’t work Mondays she’s having to find childcare for 5 weeks.

Yes ideally training courses would be available to fit everyone’s normal working hours but that’s just not realistic.

How old is/are DC? How about doing it doing the summer holiday period and finding a student locally to look after DC? Is that a possibility?

Lazypuppy Sat 01-Jun-19 18:45:06

No its not discrimination, you just need to book and pay for the childcare like everyone else.

Ask when the next dates are in the future and get your childcare sorted well in advance so you can go.

9:30-4:30 is not even a long day!

BlackPrism Sat 01-Jun-19 18:45:54

Use a babysitting service. 9.30am is not early or unreasonable and you need to be able to do your job considering you've already cancelled twice.

Every other mother somehow manages...

BendingSpoons Sat 01-Jun-19 18:51:19

I understand your frustration with lack of flexibility. My work run mandatory training on the same day every month e.g. First aid training is always a Monday. This is a right pain when you don't work Mondays. If you aren't compliant, you don't get a pay rise. They could be more flexible but they won't if only a minority are affected.

Hercules12 Sat 01-Jun-19 18:56:22

I don't understand these threads when the mother berates her work place for not being flexible but excuses the father for not being flexible. It's not discrimination, its the fact the child's other parent isn't stepping up. Why is it always the woman who assumes responsibility for the joint child?

daisychain01 Sat 01-Jun-19 21:21:09

You're doing all the heavy-lifting re childcare. You need to 'up' your expectations of your ex's involvement, He needs to step up to the plate and support this 1 week training session - can you reason with him that his support will ultimately benefit the DC because the training will improve your CS career opportunities and earning potential. Alternatively can you extend your childcare arrangement over that week, maybe via their school?

CS is about the least discriminatory employer in the U.K! They bend over backwards to support parents with flexible working (even during probation periods). I wouldn't suggest you level that criticism of them in the context of them offering you training, it could make you lose credibility.

TitianaTitsling Sat 01-Jun-19 21:24:33

Don't they offer wrap round care near you? If it's only a 20 min walk from your own office it's not that different really is it?

TitianaTitsling Sat 01-Jun-19 21:26:58

How old are DC? With the times you are giving is the childcare school? All the childcare providers l know of -as in not school- offer wrap round care, I know of some that start 7am and run till 7pm.

Cracklycaramel Sat 01-Jun-19 21:32:31

If it is CS do they not offer to pay your additional childcare? I've had payment for my eldest children's childcare as well as payment for my youngest to come with me (along with an additional carer to take them while I was in training) as I was breastfeeding. They usually bend over backwards to help in the CS.

RedSkyLastNight Sat 01-Jun-19 21:42:56

Your employer is being very flexible to allow you to work at home on 2 days a week. My view is that you should therefore aim to be flexible in return.
If your DC are at school, can't you just ask the parent (or several parents!) of one of their friends to have them just for for one week? Or it's worth asking local childcare providers if they can take yours as a one off e.g.if a regular child is on holiday.

Babysharkdododont Sat 01-Jun-19 21:50:23

OP I work for the NHS, and mandatory training is just that. You get given plenty of notice but absolutely must attend. If not you are not allowed to practice, and are suspended.

I think the fact you've cancelled it twice and are now making noises about being able to attend a 3rd attempt makes you look unprofessional and disorganised. I'd be amazed if your line manager isn't thinking the same.

BeeFarseer Sat 01-Jun-19 21:55:31

I'm a trainer in the Civil Service. Often the course times are set by management, and it's always done with operational need in mind. I'm a business-embedded trainer so firstly I have to be cleared for release from my day-to-day role to deliver training. Then there's the issue of delivering training promptly if people have been recruited to fill needed roles.

I will always make reasonable adjustments when I'm delivering a course. It's never a problem to make minor changes to the running of the course if someone asks me if it's ok to come in slightly late or leave slightly early one day, but I expect notice (barring emergencies) and preferably to be asked before the start of the course to give me time to juggle things around in a way that will still make sense.

Your suggestion of delivering a course on one day a week over five just wouldn't work in my line of business. The subject matter is complex, and I would end up recapping half of what we did the previous week. I can't speak for whatever your course is, but honestly, if it was appropriate to be delivered on one day over a number of weeks it would probably be an e-learning package instead of classroom-based training.

I'm sorry because I know it's difficult. But I don't think it's discrimination. It might be worth having a chat with the trainer to see if they can work something out for you within your normal hours but I wouldn't expect it.

Isleepinahedgefund Sun 02-Jun-19 12:03:11

Interesting, thanks for the responses. I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and so will my employer - short of bringing her with me, I genuinely have no other option at present. I don’t get given plenty of notice for the courses (two weeks at most) which makes arranging childcare all the more difficult. I can’t get there earlier as I can’t drop her off at any childcare earlier than I do already, it’s not a matter of being flexible about that I simply don’t have a choice!

There isn’t any other paid childcare I can access as they’re all full - and her dad does share the cc equally and can’t be more flexible at short notice as he too has a ft job. Nowhere round here does 7-7 childcare either, it’s all 8-6.

Bee - thank you for the insight into the training, I hadn’t thought of it like that.

As for CS least discriminatory employer - on paper yes, but on the ground it varies so much. Working from home part of the week is entirely normal though so they’re not doing me a special favour there - I could walk at home all week if I wanted! I actually specifically asked about training arrangements before I accepted the job and was told something completely different from the actual situation.

Special thanks to the poster who said I look unprofessional and disorganised - rather than a single parent with genuine difficulty.

OP’s posts: |
ch3rrycola Sun 02-Jun-19 12:19:49

Ask them for more notice then ask Ex to take a week annual leave

Doyoumind Sun 02-Jun-19 12:29:22

Do you or your ex not have a single friend or family member you can approach to help out on this one-off occasion? There must be some kind of solution. If it were me I would do everything to explore any avenue at all before complaining to my employer where they have already set reasonable times for the course.

I am a single mum and have had to travel across the country for work, often leaving or returning in the early hours. I've always just had to make it work somehow.

insancerre Sun 02-Jun-19 12:36:04

Ask a family member or a friend or a neighbour or a parent at school
Or pay a temp nanny

RedSkyLastNight Sun 02-Jun-19 12:39:48

OP have you actually asked your child care provider if they would offer earlier/later care just for this one off occasion? If it's a nursery or after school club rather than a childminder, would one of the staff cover the extra hours (obviously you'd pay them). Or would your employer fund or part fund an "emergency" nanny? Is there any childcare available near the course (and you take it during the summer holidays if you have schoolage DC)? You seem very quick to say it's impossible.

RedPandaFluff Sun 02-Jun-19 12:43:02

@Isleepinahedgefund how old is your DD?

swingofthings Sun 02-Jun-19 13:10:42

it’s not a matter of being flexible about that I simply don’t have a choice!
This is however very hard to believe especially if you only have one child only. As suggested, I'm sure you could ask one mum at the school to help on these two days offering to do the same in return. You could start approaching them now, saying that you don't know yet when it will be but you'd be able to give two weeks notice and ask if that would be OK.

I was a single mum of two kids working FT and at times had to attend courses or go to meetings out of town finishing late. I had no help at all from their dad nor family. Building relationships with other ms was essential. I found other parents extremely helpful and supportive. I made sure to help in return for instance taking some inset days off and offering to look at up to 4 other kids, helping 2 or 3 parents.

The reality is that if you want certain jobs/careers, you have to accept to go beyond what parents on lower paid/responsibilties have to do. It doesn't come across as if you've really tried that hard to look at all solutions.

Alternatively if indeed you really can show that not one person can help for two days, you could at least suggest that you arrive a bit later/finish a bit earlier on these two days and offer to go over what you missed during the lunch break. At least its offering one suggestion rather than implying discrimination.

ClaudiaWankleman Sun 02-Jun-19 13:15:42

Ask them for more notice then ask Ex to take a week annual leave

This response seems bonkers to me.

OP there is no way you cannot get childcare until 7pm in the south east, where there is such a sizeable proportion of commuters who work such hours.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 02-Jun-19 13:28:30

It's not discriminatory. In fact, those hours seem unbelievably reasonable and designed to allow people ample time to get to and from the course.

However, since you seem to have decided that it's impossible (apologies if you have already asked your ex, your childcare provider and your friends if they can help find a solution and they've all said an unequivocal "no"), I guess you won't be able to attend the training. But this isn't your work's fault.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 02-Jun-19 13:31:42

Do you really have a two and a half hour commute, if you'd need to leave a 3.30 for a 6pm pick up? Do you live in the Midlands? confused

PCohle Sun 02-Jun-19 14:01:21

The training course is only 20 minutes walk from your office and runs 9.30 -4.30? That sounds an eminently reasonable set up from your employer. Flexible working requires flexibility on the part of the employee, not just the employer.

I don't think this is at all discriminatory, I think you need to do a bit work regarding your childcare options.

Running the course over one day a week would be very difficult for someone who for example, didn't work that day or worked from home that day every week. There are no options that are perfect for everyone.

Lazypuppy Sun 02-Jun-19 14:16:40

So just put them in 8-6 on the training days, problem solved surely?

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