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Childcare whilst at work - obligations

(8 Posts)
ThePerUnaBomber Fri 07-Feb-14 13:36:21

My manager has just asked me to put in place "more resilient and robust childcare arrangements" as I had to take a half day last week due to childminder D&V illness.

I had initially taken the time as annual leave (which I was under the impression I had to) - until my manager brought this up with me - first verbally in a meeting, and then in writing after I had a little look on our intranet and discovered I was legally entitled to take that sort of day as "special paid leave" when I am faced with an unavoiable childcare emergency.

Other info: last calendar year I took 6.5 days' annual leave to cover preschool DS' sickness; his father and I are not together, so the bulk of the care falls to me. His father took 1 day off and paternal grandparents covered 2 other days as DS was very sickly - possibly as he had not previously been amongst other children. I work on those days, as evidenced by my email output. I also have no performance issues on my review, which was done in December.

I work in a fairly senior role in a large government department; I am the only one of my peers to have school age children; the rest of the people doing my job are either childless or their children are grown (think 15-20 year age gap between me and them).

My question to you all is twofold: has she any right to ask me to put in place "more resilient and robust childcare" at all? Secondly: Given I have a very flexible and rarely ill childminder (3 days in 2 years) who covers well past contracted hours, late dinners, overnights as needed to accommodate my work, in addition to the occasional help from DS' dad and grandparents and the fact that my DP has stepped in to assist a couple of times, is there anything more I can reasonably be expected to do when either DS or the minder is ill?

Thanks all, look forward to reading your thoughts.

JeanSeberg Fri 07-Feb-14 13:39:20

How was the request made - verbal or letter/email?

GlaikitFizzog Fri 07-Feb-14 13:43:48

I don't know the legalities of this, but it sounds all wrong to me. Can they even ask that?? I would contact HR for advice on their policy and what is required of you. WTF is "more robust and resilient childcare"?

Asking you this after only a half day off is very odd.

HSMMaCM Fri 07-Feb-14 13:49:19

You could fight it, or you could agree to it and just carry on as you are. You already have flexible, reliable Childcare, so how can you improve on that?

dramajustfollowsme Fri 07-Feb-14 13:49:58

It sounds like you have very robust and flexible childcare.
I really don't think they should have asked that. However, even though you are separated, I think dad should have shared the last bout of illness cover more with you.

ThePerUnaBomber Fri 07-Feb-14 13:54:22

Both verbal and in writing. Pasted here is the text:

"On this occasion we will cover it but it is not something that we can give regularly. It is meant to enable people to put things in place (eg cover). So please be mindful that we might not be able to accommodate on a another occasion.

Hopefully this kind of situation won�t happen (I know it was sod�s law last week with [exP's] parents) - but we did start a conversation yesterday about how your cover could be more resilient/robust. Are you thinking about different afterschool childcare arrangements when you�ve moved to [new house]? I know you hoped [DP] could help more."

She started a conversation at the end of a meeting, which I did not engage with. I said in the meeting, "Oh, right, well, I'll see." The comment about DP helping more is totally misrepresented - after we move in together in April, he will be able to pick DS up from the minder when I have a late meeting / dinner, but that happens only a couple of times a month. Ordinarily the minder keeps DS an hour or so longer than usual or takes him to my house and puts him to bed if I'm going to be really late. So it's not a case of more resilient cover, just different cover to what I have already put in place.

Personnel (as we call them here in this antiquated part of government) are less than useles. Interestingly, I have had time off the last couple of weeks working from home with car and appliance trouble - none of those requests are met with comment other than "yes, fine". It's just when it relates to care of DS. Even today, I said I would have to push off early to pick my car up and got the comment "I don't keep tabs on you"... backtracking much?

ThePerUnaBomber Fri 07-Feb-14 13:57:11

DS' dad isn't logistically able to help as he works a long way away from where we live. It happened that DS was ill on a day he was more local. So it's a last resort. And he's not obliged to do it, legally, I don't think. Though I have spoken to him about this and he's said he will step up more if he can.

I don't however think I want to get drawn into defending my position when it's a non-legal ask from my manager in the first place. From the timing of her message, she replied without consulting HR (who sit in the next room to me).

tiredoutgran Fri 07-Feb-14 14:30:17

She had no right to ask you to do this given that it is not an ongoing and regular problem(and maybe even if it was!)

I think you have got everything in place that you could reasonably be expected to have.

FWIW, I also work for a large Government dept, when I had 3 small and very confused children placed with me just a few months after starting, making it impossible for me to easily meet my contractual obligations, my line manager absolutely bent over backwards to make my working pattern easier to manage. She has continued to do this for the last 5 years, at times way beyond what could be expected from an employer. I obviously still have to do my job but changes were made to the type of work I was given so that the crucial time demands I couldn't possibly meet were avoided.

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