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Has anyone taken a Leave of Absence to look after their children ?

(69 Posts)
Mojomummy Wed 11-Jul-07 14:37:14

I am coming to the end of my year off & don't want to go back to work for another year.

I've spoken to my manager this morning who told me he was expecting me to resign. I said I would like to take a year of absence.

Am assuming I'm going to have to make an offical request & I'm interested to know reasons given.

I told him I want to take the time off to care for my daughter & he doesn't think this is a good enough or 'eligible' reason - travelling the world would be of course.

DOn't want to jeopardise my chances, so any advice appreciated.

ruddynorah Wed 11-Jul-07 15:29:34

you may be able to apply for a career break. ask your boss for details of this. parental leave is only 13 weeks per child in total in blocks of a week ish. what is your job? do you work for a large company?

flowerybeanbag Wed 11-Jul-07 16:01:53

mojomummy does your organisation have a policy of giving career breaks? Are you making a formal request under this policy, and if so are there any guidelines as to what is 'eligible'?

Alternatively, are there other individuals who have been granted similar breaks, you could investigate how they framed their request to get it approved.

You may find you need to say something about how you will keep your skills up to date or similar, depending on what your job is.

If your organisation doesn't have a policy of doing this you will probably need to write a really good proposal about why it is in the organisation's benefit to hold your job open for another year - in other words how and why you will be a better employee when you come back, what new skills/experience you might bring, etc.

It is quite an ask to request your job to be held open for you for so long, particularly if there is no scheme for doing this where you work. There is always a fair risk for them that you wouldn't come back at the end of it.

Good luck!

Mojomummy Wed 11-Jul-07 17:04:49

thanks - I work for a big blue chip company.

My role has been reallocated whilst I've been on maternity leave & although it can be pulled back together for me, I don't like the team leader. I've been offered something else (I'd rather watch paint dry). Basically I'm not a high flyer, but I don't want to resign, because I expect I'll be desperate to get back to work next year. I just can't face putting DD2 into nursery & the prospect of her being miserable, for me to earn just a few hundred £ a month.

A friend took a year maternity leave & is now on a leave of absence (she's spending a year in NZ with her baby & hubby)

My company is big on work/life balance & whilst I wouldn't expect them to keep my job open - I don't exactly have one, as above - I don't want to resign.

This is the Eligibility criteria
3 years minimum service (reduced only in exceptional circumstances).
5 years interval since previous period of authorised absence without pay (reduced only in exceptional circumstances).
2 years interval since assignment/secondment (reduced only in exceptional circumstances).
Good past performance.
Minimum impact on the employee’s skill while away from work.
Minimum business impact of the absence.
Reason for request complies with Business Conduct Guidelines (no activity involving employment will be approved).

NB (i): As the granting of Unpaid Leave of Absence is a discretionary business decision meeting the eligibility criteria does not infer an automatic right that such leave will be granted.

NB (ii): Managers should be fair and consistent when using this policy.

NB (iii): Leave of Absence will not be granted if the employee is to engage in any work activities other than those related to community service

As well as being a mummy, I'll be involved with the NCT & doing a part-time degree.

flowerybeanbag Wed 11-Jul-07 17:18:29

Sounds good if there is a policy around this and some guidelines as to what will/will not be approved as well.

It says managers need to be fair and consistent when applying it, if your friend has had a year leave of absence after maternity this will obviously help.

With NCT and a part-time degree, you are doing some other 'worthy' activities apart from looking after your daughter, both these could be eligible on their own.

I would put in a detailed request, stating that you are requesting a year leave of absence in accordance with whatever policy it is, outlining how you meet the eligibility criteria in the policy, how you will maintain your skill level and how your proposed activities will benefit you in terms of what you can bring to your role (think what transferable skills you will develop/improve through studying and involvement with NCT).

If you have demonstrated clearly how you meet the criteria he will find it more difficult to dismiss your request out of hand, and you will have something solid you can take to the next level if he refuses again.

Mojomummy Wed 25-Jul-07 23:57:44


I had my leave of absence declined, so sadly, I am bracing myself for a return to work before I wanted to.

I have requested parental leave, 2 x 4 weeks for both my girls. So fingers crossed for that.

Will sit tight & hope that some sort of redundancy comes along...

flowerybeanbag Thu 26-Jul-07 08:50:17

hi mojomummy, sorry to hear that. Were you satisfied with the reasons you were given or is it something you want to take further? Or would you rather just get on with it and take your parental leave?

Good news is that your employer can't stop you taking parental leave, they can postpone it for up to 6 months if there is a good business reason, but you will definitely get it which is good.

Sounds like there may be a possibility of redundancy as well, based on what you have said about your role, if they offered you something different and expected you to resign, so fingers crossed for that.

thebecster Thu 26-Jul-07 09:13:48

Hi Mojomummy
Sorry to hear you didn't get what you wanted. Hope the redundancy and parental leave come through for you. I just wanted to reassure you about nursery, just in case you do have to go back, as you said you were worried about the prospect of your daughter being miserable. My DS loves nursery so much, he goes running in the door in the morning, and you can tell that all the other kids there are happy too. He's always pleased to see me when I pick him up too, but he also gets really excited when it's time to go to nursery in the morning, and when gets in and he sees his friends & the staff he's just grinning like a fool! So if you absolutely do have to go back, just try to pick a nursery that you think will fit, and don't be so sure that your DD will be miserable, as it could be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Good luck, hope it works out for you.

Mojomummy Thu 26-Jul-07 16:17:57

Hello, well the reason given was resource - there are jobs which need filling were the words (incidentially I'm not being offered 'jobs')

Also there was a concern that I would be out of - - - (my company) for 2 years & no one would know me when I return. (does this matter ?)

Flowereybeanbag - I read another post of yours, (excellent advice) mentioning to someone about not going in all guns blazing, which has reined me in somewhat.

I'm just devastated that I can't be off another year - I just don't get how someone gets paid to go travelling (same dept) & a friend of mine also at - - - takes a year off, after maternity leave to go to NZ - where her family are & her DH also goes & he works for --- as well.

I don't think they have been fair & consistant. Perhaps that's my next option ? ALthough it is of course at managers discretion.

I didn't mention the part-time degree in my request, although I mentioned the charity work, because my manager put it to me that if I retrained I'd leave anyway.

My only hope is the parental leave & then redundancy. When I first spoke to my manager he said there were always packages to be had, then when I asked last week, he said there would be nothing, I'd have to resign.

Thebecster, thanks, it's good your DS loves it - what age did he go in ? My DD2 is really still a baby (ok she's a yr)& I hope she will like nursery when she is maybe 2. DD1 hated it & would cry at least 2 out of 3 drop offs . I know what you mean about self-fulfilling prohecy though...

I'm off to see if there are anymore straws I can clutch at !

flowerybeanbag Thu 26-Jul-07 16:38:47

hmm, can't for the life of me imagine why not knowing people when you come back would be a reason, otherwise they'd never recruit anyone new would they?! They are fishing for reasons.
If you genuinely feel they haven't applied their policy consistently and fairly I reckon you do have grounds for appealing the decision if you want to do that. Yes this kind of thing is managers' discretion, but might be worth a go.
TBH I don't think you'll get anywhere as from everything you have said I think they are hoping to be rid of you, which is probably the real reason they have said no - they are hoping you will resign as you can't take this time off.
Don't ask any more about redundancy - if they have said to you previously it's a possibility and have said no to your request for leave, they hoping your resignation will save them the redundancy pay.
I'd call their bluff if I were you, don't allow yourself to be eased into resigning by them making your life a bit difficult - it sounds to me as though if you hang around redundancy might rear it's head as an option again, so hang on for a bit, I think they are hoping you will go quietly and save them the cash.
I could be wrong, but it all adds up to that I think.

Mojomummy Thu 26-Jul-07 17:01:38

that's exactly what DH & I think. So sitting tight, with a securely buttoned lip.

Thanks for advice - I've got a terrible headache, but at least now, knowing /thinking it's a game, is making it a bit easier to understand.

See what happens ref the parental leave now..

flowerybeanbag Thu 26-Jul-07 17:13:56

definitely a game, who cracks first! So sit tight and remember that, whatever they throw at you.
If you are feeling like it you could throw some stuff back at them. If you make a bit of a pest of yourself they might be more likely to crack and run to HR or whoever has the money saying 'you must give me some cash to pay off mojomummy, she is doing my head in and is right in the way'.

But tbh I think you are probably in the way just by insisting on coming back from maternity leave, so just doing that should do the trick pretty sharpish, and you want this to be as stress free as possible. Go back to work, don't do them any favours regards working late, etc etc, just do what you need to do, take your parental leave and spend it with your girls, and before too long you could be trotting back home again with a cheque.
Fingers crossed!

Mojomummy Fri 27-Jul-07 12:52:40

latest date:

The management team have decided that due to the workload and staffing situation currently facing the team they cannot accommodate your application at this time. Your request has been accepted however, the timing of the leave has been postponed for a period of 6 months.

What workload, what staffing stituation ??!

flowerybeanbag Fri 27-Jul-07 15:14:47

Not surprising they are postponing it for the maximum time, again this is all to make you more fed up and more likely to resign.

You could challenge it. Acas website says the following about postponed parental leave;

'If an employer considers that an employee’s absence would unduly disrupt the business, then the employer can postpone the leave for no longer than six months after the beginning of the period that the employee originally wanted to start his or her parental leave. The employer should discuss the matter with the employee and confirm the postponement arrangements in writing no later than seven days after the employee’s notice to take leave. The employer’s notice should state the reason for the postponement and set out the new dates of parental leave. The length of the leave should be equivalent to the employee’s original request.

Employers may be justified in postponing leave when, for example, the work is at a seasonal peak; where a significant proportion of the workforce applies for parental leave at the same time; or, when the employee’s role is such that his or her absence at a particular time would unduly harm the business'.

So if your role is particularly busy at the time of year you want to take your leave, or loads of people are already taking leave then, it could be justified.

I would still sit tight, they are just hoping you will resign if you can't take your time off when you want to.
And I would challenge it, not because you expect to get anywhere, but to give them as much work to do as possible, don't give them an easy life. Also if you can give good arguments as to why your absence will not unduly harm the business, you could at least get the postponement reduced so you can take your leave sooner than 6 months.
Difficult to justify why the business would suffer unduly with you taking parental leave bearing in mind you have been off for a year already and your boss told you he was expecting you to resign...

They obviously know that your request for leave of absence and then your request for parental leave is because you are not ready to come back to work yet. So by refusing all your requests for leave, they are working on the basis that as you don't want to come back to work, you will resign.
So I would consider challenging the parental leave decision on the basis of the criteria above, to keep them busy and go back to work when the time comes as well. If you communicate with them on the basis that fine in that case you will return to work, but will be challenging the 6 month postponement of your parental leave, I think there is a good chance they may crack before you get there, or at least soon afterwards.
Worst case scenario you do end up resigning but I really think it's worth holding on as long as you can - everything you have said indicates that they really don't want you there.

Mojomummy Sat 28-Jul-07 11:03:07

Ooh, I should buy you a drink, you're making me feel so much better - thanks

I spoke to my new potential manager yesterday & she is confused because I have declined the role she 'they created for me'.

My current/soon to be previous manager says he is handing me over to her..she says she doesn't have anything else for me to do.

I'll keep quiet & see what happens.

My concern is that I am forced to take the 'suitable' alternative. It really isn't suitable, wrong skillset etc. Not sure whether this counts for anything though ?

flowerybeanbag Sat 28-Jul-07 15:59:30

glad you are feeling better!

Amused at confusion of new manager! If your same job no longer exists on your return from additional maternity leave they have to offer you something 'similar', on no less favourable terms and conditions. Would you say it was 'similar'? If so you may be forced to take it.

If your manager is confused and says she doesn't have anything else for you to do, you are right to just keep quiet - that's her problem to deal with, certainly don't make it any easier for her by coming up with suggestions about what you could do. She will probably take advice about whether she can/should force you to take this alternative or what her other options are, which will include redundancy.

I do think the 'reasons' they have given you for postponing your parental leave are rubbish, so it might be worth bunging a letter in challenging it - at the very least, them saying something vague like the 'workload and staffing situation' isnt enough to justify postponing it for 6 months. You could ask for the postponement to be reduced and for a more detailed explanation about why your absence at any point during the next 6 months will unduly disrupt the business. Doing a letter like that will take you half an hour but it will give them a headache! And if you use the proper language, about 'unduly disrupting the business', they will know you have taken advice or done some research, which is no bad thing.

Keep hanging in there you are doing everything right, keep the ball in their court as much as possible to keep them busy and fingers crossed they will cave in before you get back to work. When are you due to go back by the way?

Mojomummy Sat 28-Jul-07 21:14:22

start back on this Thursday.

I'm just going to get on with it, with gritted teeth - let them work it out. Hopefully they won't & I'll send them the letter you mentioned.

I'll keep you updated

flowerybeanbag Sun 29-Jul-07 17:43:27

yes do let me know how things go and if there are any developments

NAB3 Sun 29-Jul-07 17:46:47

constructive dismissal? Seems like they want you to resign?

flowerybeanbag Sun 29-Jul-07 18:08:24

nab3 this is not constructive dismissal - mojomummy's employers have not substantially breached their contract with her, they have not forcibly demoted her, reduced her salary or anything similar, or taken away her job without giving her an alternative or made her position in any way untenable.

I would agree it is fairly clear they want her to resign, but there is nothing wrong in that - there is no way anyone could prove that those decisions mean they want her to resign - we are just able to infer that from things they are doing, but unless they are actually placing pressure on her to resign, it wouldn't be constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal is notoriously difficult to prove and to successfully claim.

At the moment they are not behaving brilliantly, I think it is clear they were expecting mojomummy to resign, and she hasn't, so she is presenting them with a problem, which they are attempting to solve by being obstructive with requests she has made in the hope that she will resign. Nothing illegal yet, although I think the decision to postpone her parental leave for 6 months is based on shaky grounds and could be challenged, and it will be interesting to see what happens when mojomummy returns to work on Thursday in terms of her role.

NAB3 Sun 29-Jul-07 18:09:17

How can there be nothing wrong in a company wanting her to resign? She doesn't want too.

flowerybeanbag Sun 29-Jul-07 18:13:44

They haven't actually said they want her to resign, we are just inferring it from their actions. They have made some decisions which didn't go in her favour but no one could prove that that meant they wanted her to resign. I think that probably is the case, but you couldn't stand up in a tribunal and say 'they refused my year off and postponed my parental leave and I was given a different job when I got back from additional maternity leave, therefore they want me to resign'. All those things are perfectly legal in themselves, which is why constructive dismissal is so hard to prove.

Mojomummy Thu 02-Aug-07 10:14:46

morning !

well I am at my desk, frantically trying to logon...

My old/current manager went on holiday for 3 weeks on Tuesday - I have no idea what work I am supposed to be doing.

What shall I do ?

Waiting to get back on the system in case they have mailed me with 'tasks'. If they have, won't I have had to agree them beforehand ?

looneytune Thu 02-Aug-07 10:19:35

Gosh Mojo, I was just in the kitchen and shouted Oh no.............Mojo's 1st day back and I didn't email to say good luck! Sorry about that but glad to see you here so hopefully you'll get my good luck wishes.

I won't go into how I feel about everything on here, you already know that!!

How f*ing rude of them, so you're just sat there on your own with no idea of what to do??!!

flowerybeanbag Thu 02-Aug-07 10:22:33

morning mojomummy!

Er...welcome back to work?

You could spend the day on MN

Seriously. Who is in charge of you while manager away? His/her manager? I would see if anything appears on your email, and then try and speak to whoever.

How rubbish that no one is there to welcome you back, talk through what you should be doing etc. Don't necessarily have to agree all tasks beforehand, but agree should in your case where your role is unclear.

See what email says if any, then talk to more senior manager, and report back here if you like, happy to help will be about all day.

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