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Taking Time Off for Dependants> My 3 year old son changes nursery in 3 weeks time. I have just been told by the new nursery that I need to 'settle' him in for up to a week! (they did not mention this initially).
As they have met my son recently and can see that he is quite outgoing they said he may be ok after 2-3 days. However, the thing is Im not sure what to say to the guys I work for (I work at an investment bank) inthe City. I am a PA. The thing is although I am a long term temp - I wouldnt mind being asked to stay permanently.
I have scheduled the odd day off since August (3) and then in Novemember I moved house so took a week off as well as being off between xmas and NY (although they all were off so probably wouldnt have noticed that one) I just really didnt want to ask (especially so soon after my last stint off for more time off) I could either ask for 3 days out (or 2 as my partner might be able to get one day off - although its difficult for him too) or state that I will come in late for 2 mornings and leave early for one afternoon (Ive checked with the new nursery and they are happy if I start the settling-in period just prior to his actual start date - this will then mean that I can take Aaron (my son) into his old nursery after/before being at his new nursery.
This seems like the ideal solution as no one has to cover for me and I can still keep up to date with my work- although a) I think the disadvantages will be that I am sure Aaron will be pretty tired (and confused) (and me too). And am not sure how fair it is on him.
b) I still have to go an ask at least 3 of my bosses to 'do me a favour' type of thing - and it also means I have to go into details - which bores them (I think) and also makes me feel as if Im a 'nightmare'
c) In some ways, if I ask for 3 days off @ least I don't have to "explain myself" (but then I will need to get the other girls to cover me etc, What do you think?
Dear Rosemarie - You describe the juggling act and thought processes of working mothers so accurately in your letter, when you consider the possible scenarios for dealing with this settling in period at your son's new nursery.
It would probably be best to take off the least time you can from work to settle in Aaron, as you do seem concerned that a lot of absences will prejudice your chances of being taken on permanently.
Although you do not know that they think you are a "nightmare" because you are a working mother, it is usually better to try to keep domestic crises out of the workplace where possible. You want to maintain a professional approach and it might be worth asking your bosses whether you can come in late and leave early for the two days you need to.
Just say it is to settle your son into his new nursery and offer to make up the time in some other way (possible shorter lunch hour or work later when you can). Then if your partner can get one day off, it will help you. Do not expect Aaron to be tired and confused - there is no reason why you cannot manage this by preparing him for the change-over. As he is three years old you can tell him that there will be a new nursery and new friends. Does he know anyone at the new place? If so, you can tell him that he will be seeing this friend there and how nice it will be. He will take his cue from you and react accordingly, so take it in your stride.
The same applies to the workplace - do not say "Sorry for being a nightmare" but just ask for the minimum time you need, giving the reason but not too much detail, and offer to make it up where necessary. If you work with one hundred percent commitment the rest of the time, they will probably not make a big deal about this. It seems more to you because it is your problem and it is worrying you.
I hope this has helped you and that Aaron will settle in well into his new nursery. Regards Diana Wolfin
Dear Mary, I am working part time, and have 2 children. Of course, when either of them is sick I have to take the day off work. What is my legal position? Do I have to take time out of my annual leave entitlement, or is it compassionate leave, or is there a maximum number of days compassionate before I have to take annual leave??? My company does not have a strict policy about it, but there is an issue brewing and I would like to know my rights! Thanks for your help. Helen.
Dear Helen All employees, whether part-time or full-time, and regardless of how long they have been in the job, have a right to take ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with unexpected problems or illness of dependants (for example, children or elderly parents).
Unfortunately this ‘dependant care leave’ is unpaid, unless your employer agrees otherwise. The amount of this leave you can take is limited to what might be deemed ‘reasonable’ although what is reasonable is not defined in law. In practice, the Department of Trade and Industry has said that, in most cases, one or two days every time leave is taken should be enough.
To take dependant care leave, you must tell your employer as soon as possible why you need to take time off, and when you expect to be back. However, you don't need their permission and you don't have to tell them beforehand. There is no limit on the number of times you can use this right. If your employer unreasonably refuses to allow you to take time off, or penalises you for it, you can bring a claim against them.
There are a few exceptions to this right. For example, members of the police service, the armed forces and some employees in the fishing industry do not have the right to take time off to care for dependants.
If your children are under five (or under 18 if they are disabled) and you have been in your job for over a year you could take unpaid parental leave for problems that are likely to last longer than a couple of days. You are allowed 13 weeks in total for each child.
Parents of disabled children get 18 weeks in total. Unfortunately, taking parental leave is rarely an option, because you usually have to give your employer prior notice.
These are your statutory rights, that is, rights that are guaranteed by law. Many workers will have better rights in their contract of employment. From what you say I assume that your contract does not give you any extra rights, but do check if you haven’t yet. If you are a member of a union, you should also contact your union representative. As I have only given a general outline of the law relating to time off for dependants and parental leave, I would always advise you to seek legal advice for help with your particular circumstances.
If you cannot afford to take unpaid leave you could take annual leave (if your employer doesn’t mind the lack of notice).
Have you considered asking your employer about flexible working? Parents of children under six, who have been in their job for more than six months, have the right to request flexible working hours. If you work in a job where you could reasonably work from home occasionally if your children were ill, or work flexitime (and make up any hours you missed when caring for a sick child) this is definitely an option worth exploring.
Your boss has to consider a request for flexible working seriously but does not have to agree to it if it is impractical. You have to make this request in writing, and you should make as clear a case for the changes you are requesting as possible. These changes would usually be permanent unless you and your boss agree otherwise.
Your boss is obliged to meet with you within 28 days of receiving your request to discuss your proposals in more detail, and explore any possible alternatives. Your boss then has to write to you with an answer within a fortnight. If your request is denied, your employer has to provide clear business grounds as to why, and you have a right to appeal but you must do so within 14 days. You are only entitled to make one application for flexible working each year. It is therefore best to get advice as to the content and submission of your application and your particular entitlements.
Again, some employees such as members of the armed forces or agency workers, do not have the right to ask for flexible working. You can find a local employment law specialist by visiting www.advicenow.org.uk and running a postcode search on your area. I hope you find a solution that suits you and your family.
Kind regards Mary Webber