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Compulsory 2 day motivation course thingy - are they being unreasonable?

(40 Posts)
Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 21:26:32

I am working in a project with about 20 people, all but two of whom are contractors. The other 2 are employees. I am one of the contractors.

Anyway, our project is under the control of the sales dept, even though we are NOT sales people. They have devised a huge team motivation event, which will run for 2 days and 2 nights, and involves camping in the middle of a forest, around 120 km from where I live.

Now this is the problem. I am a single mother of 4 children. I have 100% parental responsibility for my children, which means that if anything goes wrong, I will get the blame. My children are looked after while I am at work by a very capable 19 year old, but I don't want to leave them for 2 nights. Our house is a tip with no spare room, and I can't face having a stranger sleeping in my bed, even if I was ready to pay a babysitter.

The children are all having problems in the school - dd1 has chronic headaches, and was in hospital last week because of them. She is getting osteopathy for scrunched up vertabrae, but still feels v ill.

ds1 has just changed classes at school, because his teacher was bullying him (finally the school reacted after weeks of me nagging). He is a nervour wreck, and I have recently had him lying on the floor at midnight crying and trying to break his fingers so that he doesnt have to go to school the next day. One of the nasty things his ex teacher did was to ban him from a school camping trip that she had arranged for his old class (she just said, right from the start, that he was not going). This camping trip is happening NEXT WEEK, ie the same time that my work wants me to be fannying around in a tent. Obviously ds is very upset about the whole thing, and it would not be tactful of me to go camping this week.

ds2 is a potential liability at any time, he is very immature for his age.
We all had a horrid virus this week, and felt dreadful.

To put things further into context, I have never been on holiday with my children, and have never put up a tent with them. The thought of putting up a tent with my colleagues, just makes me very angry indeed.
At the moment, I am just about holding myself together between 9 and 5 to do my job. The last thing I want to do, is "relax" with my work colleagues in the evening. Especially as I dont like our new manager, and cannot possibly relax while he is around, in case words slip out that would later be regretted.

I am very tired, and have a headache, and today I was arbitrarily told in the dept meeting that attendance at this thing next week is mandatory, and that I must turn up - I had previously explained that I couldn't make it due to heavy family commitments.

I feel that they are treating us like children. They have no right to invade my private life like this. Is this normal in other people's experience?
Is is just a clash of sales vs the normal engineering style that I am used to?
Why do they want to dragoon us along to an event when we clearly don't want to go?

MegBusset Wed 08-Jul-09 21:30:17

Oh, I can't stand this kind of 'motivational' bollocks and would dig my heels in. As an extreme measure you could just say that your childcare let you down at the last minute.

kathyis6incheshigh Wed 08-Jul-09 21:34:41

This really, really doesn't seem reasonable. What does your contract say about hours?

bumpybecky Wed 08-Jul-09 21:39:20

I'd be very tempted to be very enthusiatic about the trip, very vocal about how excited I was to be finally given the opportuntiy to take all four of my lovely children away for a much needed short break.

I'd goon (and on, and on...) about how much my children were looking forward to camping for the first time

I'd say (loudly!) that I was a bit concerned about them waking every day at dawn when it gets light, but that I'm sure that the team will be able to help keep them amused.....

I'd carry on in this vein until someone up on high saw sense!

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 21:42:32

My contract just says that I am contracted to work x number of hours between 1 jan and 1 march.

bigchris Wed 08-Jul-09 21:43:52

i would grt signed off work with anxiety

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 21:44:01

One of my colleagues suggested taking all my children too, but they are still in school.

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 21:45:23

bigchris, how easy is it to get signed off with anxiety?

a colleague did this and was off for abut 4 months. I cant afford that!

I have already phoned in sick for tomorrow, as I cant face the situation.

3littlefrogs Wed 08-Jul-09 21:45:29

Totally , totally unreasonable. Waste of time and money. Whoever dreamed up these things must be mad. They clearly have too much time and no family responsibility.

kathyis6incheshigh Wed 08-Jul-09 21:49:03

If it's only for 2 days presumably you can phone in sick and self-certify for 2 days? Or are the rules different where you are and you would need a doctor's note?

Bramshott Wed 08-Jul-09 21:49:20

From what you've said, I can't see any way you can go. Can't you just say "it's difficult but I will see what I can do" and then the day before (or the morning of the trip) say "I'm sorry, I've tried to make arrangements but it's impossible"?

allaboutme Wed 08-Jul-09 21:49:25

if the anxiety is caused by this camping trip then I'd hazard a guess that a sympathetic gp will sign you off till just after the trip when the anxiety will be lessened.
hope you get something sorted. the sales team sound like twats

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 21:55:56

kathy, they know I dont want to go, so it would be obvious I was lying. My contract comes up for renewal in a couple of months.
that was my first thought, but Id rather manage a more graceful exit if possible.
It was put to me in a very macho way that I must attend, so I am afraid that they would just react by not renewing my contract.

sanae Wed 08-Jul-09 21:57:56

I'm with you - can't imagine anything worse. Have you explained your domestic situation (single mum, 4 kids, you don't have to tell them the rest) and how impossible it all is. Or would they not be sympathetic? But you can surely self certify for 2 days if needed - after all it sounds as though going on the trip is going to just make you DEmotivated and anxious.

kathyis6incheshigh Wed 08-Jul-09 21:58:07

Oh I see sad. Yes, under the circs you need to be defensive.

MegBusset Wed 08-Jul-09 21:59:20

Is there an HR dept you can discuss this with? If it is a mandatory event yet one that you would find impossible to get to due to family commitments, surely that is tantamount to constructive dismissal?

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 22:09:05

thank you meg "constructive dismissal" was the phrase I was trying to remember.

bramshott, I like that approach. Not sure if I have the courage to use it, but it is suitably diplomatic.

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 22:09:50

I don't think dismissal comes into it though actually, because I am a freelance worker.

janeite Wed 08-Jul-09 22:22:00

Sorry BigChris but I think that's a stinky attitude.

OP - if you are not contracted to go, then they can't make you go!

Calling in sick really doesn't help in the long run imho.

Nighbynight Wed 08-Jul-09 22:23:50

thank you everyone who has posted - I am going to sleep on your advice. And welcome any more thoughts!

JodieO Wed 08-Jul-09 23:06:42

Why is it a "stinky" attitude seeing as the op clearly is very anxious about this?

Rebeccaj Thu 09-Jul-09 14:38:40

I wouldn't go. It's totally unreasonable of them to make it mandatory. I would be calm, but clear - say you are sorry you can't do it, of course, but your commitments make it impossible, and you will of course work as normal those two days.

Nighbynight Thu 09-Jul-09 18:05:13

Well, I have just woken up after sleeping all dayblush

As I said yesterday, if I don't go, then they might not renew my contract on 1 September.
They might also use the fact that I refused to go on a business trip as a reason why I can't do my job properly (business trips are rare, I haven't had to go on one in 3 years. And this is not a business trip.)
I am working in bavaria, and it is a very macho culture where dads work and mums stay at home, or do a part time clerical job. I don't think they have the faintest understanding of what it means to have 100% p resp for 4 children.
If you don't keep up with the colleagues at work, then you don't get given jobs. I've always kept up, because it's been in work time, but now they are interfering in my home life.

I still feel too knackered to cope with teh extra hassle, and the subsequent bad behaviour from my children when they feel neglected. If anything goes wrong, I will the the one hauled up in front of social services, not my smartarse bosses.

Another thing I thought of, was preempting possible reports to social services by neighbours (we have super-nosy neighbours), by contacting ss myself and asking them for their advice. Or maybe that's just asking for trouble - their solution might be to insist on one of their spies helpers staying for 2 nights in our house.


nkf Thu 09-Jul-09 18:08:32

It sounds as if you just can't go. And you will have to deal with the work fall out if or when it happens. I would be as honest as I felt I could be with my boss. Perhaps you could go for part of the time but not stay the nights. Be pleasant, firm and compromise as much as is reasonable.

Nighbynight Thu 09-Jul-09 18:16:17

I was planning to go for just the days, until I found out how far it is from where I live.
you are right though, that could be a solution. It is about 2,5 hours drive, I think.

The work fallout is no job. I am not an employee and have no rights.

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