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with this back to work request?

82 replies

ShouldILTB · 27/08/2015 14:22

I cannot work out if I am being unreasonable or entitled to ask for this as part of my return to work package.

I want to request some kind of priority for annual leave around school holidays due to childcare issues. This is only going to be a problem around Christmas time.

In a nutshell I am asking to have the Christmas period as guaranteed leave (for one year at the very least) which I know is incredibly unfair but it's purely down to childcare issues. My CM has a week off at Easter, 2 in the summer and 2 at Xmas... essentially I want to make sure these are roughly covered by me.

Dad's working situation isn't determined yet so he may or may not be able to pitch in (It's long and complicated and we are no longer a couple) and I don't have a big support network.

For disclosure - I have worked several Xmases over the years, including one when I was heavily pregnant. However the department is only small and we do need cover. I probably live closest?

Am I a fool to even ask?

OP posts:
Sidge · 27/08/2015 16:29

I'd be looking for an alternative childminder.

A childminder who takes the bulk of the school holidays off is no use to me. And whilst I wouldn't expect her to work all of Christmas I certainly would need a CM for the majority of that 2 weeks, especially bearing in mind I'd be working all except the Bank Holidays myself.

I'm a single parent myself, with a military ex-husband who can be away for months at a time meaning I can't fall back on him for childcare. I also have no family to call upon for help. Hence why I have a brilliant CM who is flexible and gives me plenty of notice for her leave as my off-duty is done 4-6 weeks in advance. If she didn't work for 2 weeks at Christmas I'd be stuffed, but I certainly wouldn't expect to have 2 weeks off and leave my colleagues to cover. I'd be doing everything I could to make alternative childcare arrangements.

So in summary - YANBU to ask, but YABU if you expect to be granted it purely on the basis you're a parent.

DinosaursRoar · 27/08/2015 16:37

As lovely as this Childminder might be, you need someone who's going to be there more - 5 weeks without childcare, 2 over Christmas, plus covering your DCs sick days and your CM sick days with just one parent's holiday allowance is going to be tough.

Check local nurseries, even if you do half and half care between CM and nursery, that should give you the flexibility to get emergancy/extra days at nursery when your CM isn't available (and as I said before, at DC1's nursery, there was always a least one of the key workers who needed some extra cash and would babysit in the week between Christmas and New Year - the only week they were shut).

If your ExP is likely to be a twat, you need childcare that's reliable, lovely but patchy care isn't going to cut it.

DinosaursRoar · 27/08/2015 16:39

oh and if your colleagues don't have DCs, or are men who have DCs with a partner who's a SAHM or use family childcare, they won't get it. Make it as easy for yourself as possible.

HaPPy8 · 27/08/2015 16:44

I feel for you but doubt very much this will be agreed. It never would be at my place.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams · 27/08/2015 16:59

nicestrongtea Thu 27-Aug-15 16:16:07
This ^^

Also - think about what you have said, your childminder wants to take 5 weeks off a year. Do you even get 5 weeks off a year? 25 days plus bank holidays?

Speaking from experience you will need to hold back some days for emergency holiday to cover illness when your child can't go to the CM. Therefore, I would bank on having to employ a temp CM/Nanny during some points of the year. You will need to sort out a reliable babysitter anyway. If you can work from home to keep an eye on things all the better but most employers would only allow that for the first day or two of a working week.

See a solicitor if required about your ex. Within reason depending on his income 50% of childcare costs should be for him even if that is a 1:1 nanny for two weeks of the year.

My childminder is taking the days between Christmas and NY off but is available up to and incl Christmas Eve, bless her.

One other thing is that tons of people bring their kids, even their dogs to work over Christmas if they are coming in to "keep the lights on". Depends on the office/nature of the job obviously but family friendly can work in many different ways.

googoodolly · 27/08/2015 17:14

If your childminder has five weeks off a year, you're not going to be able to cover that with your annual holiday entitlement.

Plus, what about emergencies? Days when DC is too sick for childcare and you have to stay at home? You need year-round childcare - preferably a nursery that's only closed a few days over Christmas and bank holidays.

It's nice you have a childminder that gives you a good rate, but you won't be able to cover all her time-off plus time off to look after a sick DC with your holiday entitlement - not even close.

ShouldILTB · 27/08/2015 17:21

I get a generous holiday allowance (33 days + bank holidays) so I have kept some days over.

I planned to take 5 days at Easter 2016, 9 days over the summer of 2016 and whatever I can take over the festive period (ideally I was looking at 8 days) to cover the CM. That still leaves plenty of time to play with.

The reason this has come to light now threefold:
a) my company ask you at the start of the year to block out any significant period of time you want annual leave barring xmas
b) I have been contacted by HR to give them a brief run down of "my return to work agenda". It is all bullshit as HR is just one person and as I say there are no women with children in my office, BUT as I am the first person to have gone on and return from ML I guess they are going buy the book? I think they half expect me to ask for part time hours - which can have a very slow turnaround in terms of request and reply etc.
c) my Ex is messing me about and making life difficult already and I don't see him easing up anytime soon.

OP posts:
googoodolly · 27/08/2015 17:29

I think you can't rely on getting the time off when you need it, though. It's all very well saying you want 5 days at Easter etc., but you need them at the same time the childminder is closed, surely? What if someone else gets there first and you can't have the week off you need?

I think having to book your annual leave around the holidays of your childminder is a bit risky imo. So CM is closed say, April 1-7th. You can't get that week off because two other people have gotten there first. What do you do? Can you afford to take unpaid parental leave, for example?

cruikshank · 27/08/2015 17:42

I think the OP is getting some unjustly harsh replies here - she isn't asking for the leave 'because she is a parent' but because she is unable to work when the childminder takes time off. It's a practical thing, not a 'parents trumping the rights of non-parents' thing. And 'advice' to put her baby in a nursery or with a childminder that the baby doesn't know, for two weeks all of a sudden, is utter madness - childcare doesn't work like that, not for the children or for the childcare providers.

OP, I think it's a reasonable enough request, but like others if I were you I would think very carefully about your childcare arrangements because just one childminder who takes lots of time off is going to leave you with very little wiggle room. I am also a working single parent and the only reason it has worked for me is because I've used a childminder who teams up with another childminder so they cover each other's holidays plus me and the dc know a fair few of the other childminders who are local and would and have help out in a pinch because they know us so well. I would be feeling very worried indeed about the prospect of certain weeks where I was unable to work, including a time of year when lots of people want time off, if there was no guarantee (which there isn't) that I would get leave for that time.

So I think that your issue is not your request - there's really no harm in asking - but your childcare arrangements. I know that you probably don't want to hear this, because you like your childminder and you're getting a good rate, both of which are very important issues. But in terms of making your going back to work feasible, it sounds a bit too seat-of-your-pants to me - you're already worrying about something that is going to happen in 16 months, and rightly so imho. My guess is that this will happen again and again, and you really don't want to come unstuck. You need something in place that really suits you, and as a single parent it has to be absolutely watertight.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 27/08/2015 17:59

I agree you need more comprehensive childcare arrangements because it's a question of "when" rather than "if" your ex lets you down. If he is going to do that to deliberately make your life difficult (which sounds like a possibility) then having robust childcare arrangements will deprive him of that power. Ideally you want to be in a position where you can shrug your shoulders when he behaves like a twat and carry on with your life anyway.

hibbleddible · 27/08/2015 18:09

This is a very difficult one.

I think I am leaning on the side of yabu. You can ask if it would be possible to have Christmas off, but I don't think it would be reasonable to ask for it to be guaranteed.

I understand how hard childcare must be as a single parent without a support network. Maybe you need to look for another job which you can fit in with childcare if you cannot find childcare over these periods?

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone · 27/08/2015 18:33


No one at my company gets two weeks off at christmas (we only close weekends and bank holidays). Generally people get either Xmas or new year of they're lucky, never both, and quite often neither. I know all companies will be different, but in a small team I would expect some give and take from everyone to help everyone get some days they want even though everyone will also have to work some days they wanted off.

I have no kids, my family are far away and I don't drive. For me to do anything other than spend christmas alone (which I don't actually mind, have done before and its my plan this year) I need at least part of Xmas eve and the day after the bank holidays to travel home as no trains on the Xmas bank holidays. As these are my must-haves, they're the only ones I ask for and I tend to volunteer to stay late on nye when everyone else wants early finishes.

You can say I choose to not drive and live far from family. Well, op chose to have kids.

If I was your colleague I'd be fuming if it was granted at the expense of other people. It's pretty entitled to be asking for preferential leave allocation when you come back from a year off.

chrome100 · 27/08/2015 18:35

YABVU! Your childcare issues don't trump everyone else's wants and needs. What about people whose families live in other countries, or whose partners can only get certain times of year off, or who, quite simply, want to take their AL at Christmas?

Andrewofgg · 27/08/2015 19:02

If you get leave at Christmas 2016 don't even think about asking for 2017!

leghoul · 27/08/2015 19:05

I think you're being unreasonable everyone has commitments. Request it as leave as early as you can using normal methods.

Spartans · 27/08/2015 19:06

It's for next year?

Yabu and panicking needlessly.

Also what will change between next year and the year after? You say you need it for one year at the very least. What are you expecting to change that means you may not need it after the firsts one?

FithColumnist · 27/08/2015 19:11

YANBU to ask, although I think a full two weeks is mugging the rest of your department off to be honest.

However, just to counter those who say that the childfree men might be narked at you asking for leave at Christmas just because you're a parent, I'll point out that as a childfree man, in my previous job I always used to volunteer to work over Christmas and on Christmas day so my colleagues with DCs could have the time off. It just seemed like a nice thing to do and the triple time on Christmas Eve/Day and Boxing Day was pretty sweet.

dontrunwithscissors · 27/08/2015 19:13

This is the problem with CMs, although on balance, my experience was that DD2 was ill less often with a CM than when DD1 was at nursery.

We never paid our CM when she was off. Is that the case for you? There's a site called something like that has people who can provide ad hoc childcare. Maybe see what's in your area?

ShouldILTB · 27/08/2015 19:15

With all due respect I didn't "choose" to become a single parent. Plan when I fell pregnant was for Ex to be a SAHD. That is now not going to happen.

The reason I said for at least one year is that I don't foresee my circumstances changing - so I am not going to live any closer to my family / earn vastly more money than I do now to be able to have a nanny. I am always going to be almost solely responsible for children.

I appreciate I need to look at alternative childcare altogether and appreciate everyone's responses.

OP posts:
ShouldILTB · 27/08/2015 19:18

Final point and then I'll bugger off - I haven't had a "year off" - and I find that a really negative and dismissive way to look at a woman who is on maternity leave. Sadly this is the view taken by my work colleagues (had this mentioned in jest many a time between announcing pregnancy and going on ML)

I have had a year out of employment to raise my baby, not a year off.

OP posts:
Babyroobs · 27/08/2015 19:20

YABU. You should be prepared to follow the usual pattern if there is one. In our workplace we have to work Christmas day every other year. if you have a Chriatmas off on mat leave you wouls definately be expected to work the next one and every alternate one after that. We have lots of mums in my team, they get no special treatment.

ShouldILTB · 27/08/2015 19:23

We have no set pattern but I hoped working two in a row 2013 / 2014 would make my case - for 2016 at least - a bit stronger.

OP posts:
ChristineDePisan · 27/08/2015 19:23

If I was your employer there is no way that I would agree now to giving you the Xmas after next off: why would I want to tie my hands so far in advance? I would want to be sympathetic to your leave request, but not t the extent of agreeing it formally now.

And I second the others who say that you need to have a Plan B (and C and D...) anyway for those random things that always crop up that mean that your normal child care plans don't work

Aridane · 27/08/2015 19:38

I disagree with earlier posters - YABU- but zI suspect your manager will be reasonable and not discriminate against your colleagues in this way and will decline your request

mygrandchildrenrock · 27/08/2015 20:21

I know you said your childminder is a family friend but I really think you need to be looking for a day nursery, you will then have the flexibility to work when needed.

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