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Help with 'time off for dependents' and ideas please

(28 Posts)
wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 18:17:25

If anyone recognises me from the details please don't out me as I don't know if anyone from dh's work or any family are on here.

Basically I'm pregnant with fairly bad spd. I had pnd after having dc1 and have had a couple of bad days while pregnant though this has mainly been because I'm housebound with the spd. I'm supposed to be getting a Homestart volunteer but am still waiting. We have no family near by.

Dh's company have been really really sympathetic and have allowed dh to take holiday at short notice (though dh would have been willing to take 'time off for dependents' unpaid if necessary). Each time it has been unforseen that he's going to need the day off. e.g. I've woken up and can hardly move so need help to get up, emptying potty, get food/drinks for dc1 etc. Basically it's been the days when I can't walk without help. He has on occasion been able to work from home on these days instead.

Dh was called into a meeting (told in advance) yesterday to discuss things. His boss suggested that perhaps he wanted to consider going to a 4 day week for a while or taking some time off (as a sabattical). However we can't afford either of these. He was told to have a think and have a meeting next week to discuss it again.

Anyway, I suggested that an option might be for him to work from home one day a week (pref Weds so it breaks my week up). The idea being that the day he is home he does a full days work but also helps me by doing the things that make my spd worse (emptying potty, stuff that involves going upstairs, etc.). By getting that break I'm not going to have days where the spd is too bad to move with, thus meaning dh won't have to take any time off at short notice. It also means that the company know he'll be at home that day and can arrange stuff around it and if he absolutely had to go into the office then he could probably go in for the time needed (say for a meeting or whatever). Anyway he spoke to his boss today and they aren't keen sad.

I've had a look at the Direct Gov website which says "There's no limit to the number of times you can take time off for dependants, provided it's for real emergencies. If your employer feels that you are taking more time off than they can cope with, they should warn you of this." but it doesn't say what happens etc if they do inform you that you're having too much time off.

Can anyone tell me where he stands or if there's any other options he could suggest to them?

LIZS Tue 14-Jul-09 18:28:37

I suppsoe it depends on the definition of an emergency. A chronic situation, for which alternative arrangements could reasonaly be made, may not fit. The website talks of it being unpaid leave which would surely amount to the same as working a 4 day week if you followed your proposal through. I think most companies would limit the number of days paid for such leave over a period.

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 18:42:02

But you can take time off for dependents when
"The illness or injury could be a result of a deterioration of an existing condition for example, a dependant may be suffering from a nervous breakdown and may not need full-time care, but there could be occasions when their condition deteriorates and you need to take unexpected time off work."
and every time he's taken holiday at short notice has been one of those times.

He's not taking time off every week. We could probably cope with losing a couple of days pay a month but not one day per week (so a fifth of his salary).

Also my proposal was not for him to go down to 4 days a week...it was to work the full 5 days but one of those from home to stop the problem happening. I thought that would be a good idea - they get the amount of work they expect from him, I don't have to be in agony and they don't have him taking time off at short notice.

LIZS Tue 14-Jul-09 18:56:57

do they normally allow their employees of similar standing to work from home occasionally ? Maybe they are worried that it won't improve his attendance otherwise.

Northernlurker Tue 14-Jul-09 18:57:01

I think they've been pretty fair tbh. Unexpected short notice absence puts a lot of strain on a business and they've put up with it and allowed him to use paid leave. I see what you're saying about the continuing condition but you can't blame them for struggling with a condition which means he MUST be at home one day bt then is ok to go back to work only for the MUST be at home to recur without warning 10 days or whatever later. i'm not saying you shouldn't have the help btw - just that I can see why they want to have more definate arrangements to plan around. I would expect any employee of mine to put arrangements in place so they don't keep having time off at short notice. Perhaps your older child needs to go to nursery till you deliver (and hopefully recover) - dh could drop them off and pick up and you could take care of you? Would you qualify for any tax credit help with childcare costs?

EldonAve Tue 14-Jul-09 18:57:06

So how many days off is he taking each month?
Do you think this will increase or not?

RibenaBerry Tue 14-Jul-09 19:04:49

This type of leave used to be described as for emergencies, but that word isn't used in the legislation and case law has clarified that it doesn't need to be an emergency, just unforseen. The actual legislation says:

Section 57A, ERA 1996

"(1) An employee is entitled to be permitted by his employer to take a reasonable amount of time off during the employee's working hours in order to take action which is necessary -

(a) to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted,

(b) to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured,

(c) in consequence of the death of a dependant,

(d) because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant, or

(e) to deal with an incident which involves a child of the employee and which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment which the child attend is responsible for him.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply unless the employee -

(a) tells his employer the reason for his absence as soon as reasonably practicable, and

(b) except where paragraph (a) cannot be complied with until after the employee has returned to work, tells his employer for how long he expects to be absent.

As you can see, the right to time off is not simply to care for a dependant, unless that person falls ill. It is designed to cover unexpected disruption to care of a dependant. In your case, that disruption to your childcare is no longer really unexpected, so I am afraid that this right is not really the correct one to be using for a more long term arrangement like the one you are suggesting. If you can fix a day a week when you need to be off, it doesn't really fall under this legislation. If your DH continued to use this right and his employer felt it was inappropriate, it could unfortunately potentially become a disciplinary situation. If he took time off which had specifically been refused, it could even be a termination offence.

If your DH wants to request a permanent change to his working arrangments, he could use flexible working rules. Otherwise, I am really sorry but I'm not aware of any real legal grounds to make changes. Realistically, maybe you could agree one day a fortnight off. I know that's not as good as you hoped, but if that's what you can financially manage, it might be the only option.

I have to say, if I was your employer, I would also refuse the working from home request. Most employers will take the view that you can't be responsible for care of dependants and, at the same time, do a full day's work. It's the same reasoning that means that women who ask to work from home after returning from maternity leave are generally refused if they don't have childcare.

Sorry, that's not very helpful. Can I think of anything else.... Hmm, could your DH use some holiday to add to the fortnightly days off?

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 19:06:32

"I would expect any employee of mine to put arrangements in place so they don't keep having time off at short notice."

This is exactly why I suggested the work from home one day a week idea. Tbh including time to recover from the spd after the birth we'd only expect it to be for 2 months at most. It seemed to be the perfect solution to me as they wouldn't have to deal with unexpected absence. A lot of the work he does is easily do-able from home and they do allow others occasionally to work from home.

We don't get any help with childcare costs so it's not an option but it wouldn't really help even if it was an option. The days he's had off I can't physically walk and he has to help me to the loo and stuff.

slayerette Tue 14-Jul-09 19:08:17

I think it sounds as if his employers are being pretty reasonable, tbh. As an earlier poster said, your spd is a chronic rather than acute condition - i.e. you know it is going to cause problems and thus his employers might reasonably expect that you could arrange for alternative care for yourself or for your child.

I think Northernlurker's idea of a couple of days a week in nursery for dc1 is a good one - gives you a break without your DH having to miss work.

RibenaBerry Tue 14-Jul-09 19:09:25

OP - I'm a bit confused now. How would an agreed day a week help you if your DH has taken days off because you can't physically walk. Wouldn't he still need to take these on top of the fixed days?

Northernlurker Tue 14-Jul-09 19:13:57

I think the idea is that a fixed day a week would allow the op enough time to rest so that her SPD won't flare as much?

Sorry but I can undertstand why they find the working from home arrangement unworkable - they allow other employees to do it on a as and when basis righth? That's different from comitting themselves to an open ended arrangement for who kows how long? Also you would expect them to have concerns about his ability to work if he's at home because you and your child need care and how can they be sure that your SPD won't flare and need him at home outside these times?

I know it's a crappy siuation for you - but I don't think the solution lies with your dh's employers.

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 19:14:39

"If you can fix a day a week when you need to be off, it doesn't really fall under this legislation."

The thing is he can't fix a day that he needs to be off. He doesn't know when the spd is going to flare up. I only suggested that working from home one day a week would probably prevent me having any flare-ups iyswim. I'm not wanting him to have the Wednesdays off, just work from home.

I have to say, if I was your employer, I would also refuse the working from home request. Most employers will take the view that you can't be responsible for care of dependants and, at the same time, do a full day's work.

sad I think this is probably why they're not keen. It's ironic though because he could actually do more work than usual because he wouldn't have travelling time and could start earlier (as he could start before dc1 gets up and take a quick 2 min break to lift dc1 out of bed for me).

Northernlurker Tue 14-Jul-09 19:19:11

So even if he had Wednesdays off you might need him at other times? Can you not see what a difficult position this puts them in?

Ok - no family nearby but you do have family? Have you thought about asking them to help with nursery costs? i know that seems pretty awful but round here 8-6 at nursery plus two meals is £36 a day - if you have two family members able to contribute £10 each a week that would get you a days break from caring etc. Has your midwife referred you to physio? And what about social work support - if you are basically disabled by this condition then you need to get all the outside sources of support you can possibly access.

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 19:23:54

I know they've been really reasonable. The options they've come up with though for dh just aren't workable money-wise. They've asked dh to think of other solutions and I thought the working from home one was quite a decent idea. I now want other ideas.

Right now I just want to sit and cry sad. I can't take the stress and worry anymore.

RibenaBerry Tue 14-Jul-09 19:30:17

I see. The problem is that I can only see you potentially coming within 1(a) of the reasons under the legislation why the right can be triggered. That only covers if you fall in, and I think it might be difficult to argue that a chronic condition is falling ill as such (although you could try- not aware of any test cases). The time also has to be reasonable, and most employers will take the view that something which is happening once a week or so should result in you putting in place more permanent help.

I think your DH should probably plug away at the working from home thinging, stressing how he would get a full day's work done and how they could verify this (is his work measureable in any way?). A test period of, say, a fortnight, might also be a suggestion...

slayerette Tue 14-Jul-09 19:34:37

So nursery really isn't an option then for your dc1?

JoesMummy09 Tue 14-Jul-09 19:39:41

Do most of the problems with looking after your DC (that aggrevate your SPD) occur in the morning? If so, could your DH do flexible working? eg he starts at 10am instead of 9am and works a bit later? Or takes a half hour for lunch instead of a full hour and starts half an hour later?

Or could he do one day a week working from home every other week by arrangement with his employer?

Can he book in a day's annual leave for each week for the next few weeks?

Could you have some family to stay and help?

If you have a spare room you could get an au pair for £50 per week who could help with childcare and other household tasks - taking the pressure off you.

A combination of any/all of the above?

LIZS Tue 14-Jul-09 19:49:00

Might be worth asking your hv if she can find a cm or Surestart to take your dc for a few days a week and to chase up the Homestart people. Would a friend come and help out with him while you rest or as someon suggested family come to stay. Sorry but I can see why your dh's company consider it unworkable for him to work from home and they won't necessarily be able to see it as a short term solution in the way you hope.

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 19:50:03

"Do most of the problems with looking after your DC (that aggrevate your SPD) occur in the morning? If so, could your DH do flexible working? eg he starts at 10am instead of 9am and works a bit later? Or takes a half hour for lunch instead of a full hour and starts half an hour later?"

He already has flexible working and uses it so that he gets dc1 out of bed & comes back to help with lunch.

"Or could he do one day a week working from home every other week by arrangement with his employer?"

This is the sort of thing I've been suggesting but they aren't keen.

"Can he book in a day's annual leave for each week for the next few weeks?"

He no longer has enough left as they've allowed him to take his annual leave so far and he needs to keep a few days for paternity leave (company offer two weeks at full pay if you take one as holiday)

"Could you have some family to stay and help?"

"If you have a spare room you could get an au pair for £50 per week who could help with childcare and other household tasks - taking the pressure off you."

No spare room so family/au pair can't stay. It's also too expensive for any family to stay near by - my parents live on a state pension and my dad has to still work cos it doesn't cover their bills without him earning extra. (Hence also not being able to ask them to help with any costs).

wanttobeanonforthis Tue 14-Jul-09 19:54:53

Have spoken to dh and the reason they don't want him to work from home is because they want him to work on projects as part of a team...but I don't see how this is an issue if they're quite happy for him to work 4 days a week.

I can't understand that if he does as they suggest and go to 4 days a week that it's any easier than him working 5 days a week with one from home. They'd still have to plan stuff around the day he wasn't working or wasn't in the office.

I can see that they perhaps don't see it as short term but dh did explain that it likely to be one month or two at most...and two weeks of that is paternity leave anyway. So max 6 days working from home.

LIZS Tue 14-Jul-09 20:14:00

If it is only 6 days why doesn't he propose that he takes them as unpaid leave. Their refusal may also be about setting a precedent for others, were they to agree to your idea on an open ended basis. Could he get ds up , take him to a cm for the morning and bring him back at lunchtime , giving you a break ?

Kafka Wed 15-Jul-09 07:04:46

I suggest that he makes a formal flexible working request to work one day a week from home. It is not as if he will be caring for your dc, but obviously his presence will be helpful and of support to you.

The flexible working procedure can be very useful. It will force his employer to have a face to face meeting to discuss this predicament.

He can download the form from what used to be called the BERR website, I think it has a new name.

RibenaBerry Wed 15-Jul-09 07:51:06

Unfortunately Kafka, flexible working requests only apply to permanent changes to working arrangments (see here. A temporary change is not a flexible working request, so there is no obligation to consider that type of request.

Kafka Wed 15-Jul-09 11:05:41

I know, but it seems to me that there is no loss applying for flexible working. Clearly if he does not work to work from home one day a week permanently then think again, but chances are if he wants to adjust this later his employer will not object to this.

RibenaBerry Wed 15-Jul-09 18:37:36

Kafka- the problem with this is that it would be very easy for an employer to turn down a flexible working request on the basis that you cannot work from home for a day AND be a carer for that day at the same time. He would then have used up the one application a year he can make for flexible working... However, if he knows he won't make another request, I agree.

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