How do you balance the statutory right to time off for dependants, against the requirement to ensure that you have an appropriate amount of staffing within your setting?
When has someone overused this right, what is the best way of dealing with this potentially difficult situation?
In real life
This situation was examined recently when the Croner Helpline received a call from a nursery manager. He was concerned that one of his employees, Sally, had recently taken a number of days off at short notice as her childcare provision had fallen through and she had no one to look after her child. This caused an operational issue for the nursery, because it had an impact on the staff to children ratio. Other members of staff had to cover her shift at short notice, which led to discontent among Sally’s colleagues who started to complain.
During the discussion with the helpline, the manager was encouraged to sit down with Sally and talk to her about her current situation, and what could be done to avoid this happening again. The manager shared their frustration with the advisor that Sally didn’t appear to be doing everything she could do to get alternative childcare in place, and that rumour had it she had been saying ‘I’ll do what’s best for my kid’ to any of her colleagues she felt was challenging the situation.
As suggested, the manager sat down with Sally to discuss the emergency leave she had been taking. During the meeting, Sally got quite upset and was in tears a number of times. Sally disclosed that her normal childminder had broken her leg, and therefore Sally had been trying to find an alternative to cover for her while she was unable to look after the child. Sally’s mum had said she could look after her grandchild, but had been quite ill herself so it wasn’t always possible. This resulted in Sally having to look after the child at the last minute. She said that her husband could possibly help however working on a night shift he gets home after she has left for the day.
In talking about ways to resolve this, the manager asked if there was anything temporary he could do to help her out. Sally suggested perhaps she could, as a temporary measure, start and finish an hour later. This would then give her husband time to get home from and care for the child. This was agreed as a temporary measure to last until her childminder was able to get back to work, and was confirmed in writing to Sally.
Since this agreement was made, Sally has not had to use an emergency time off for dependents leave. The atmosphere among her colleagues has improved, and now her childminder is back to work she has reverted back to her original working times.
By talking to the employee, in this case the manager was able to come to a resolution that worked for everyone. This prevented the absences from beginning excessive or unmanageable.
This is a great way to look at how to balance the statutory right to time off for dependants.
The Croner-i Early Years Toolkit for dot2dot provides further information and guidance on an employer’s rights to refuse a holiday request in addition to a model policy which is available to download. All dot2dot customers can access this by visiting https://d2d.loginservice.co.uk/ and entering your registered email and password.
Don’t forget dot 2 dot members also have access to Croner’s team of employment law experts through their Helpline to assist you with this subject or any other HR issue. Simply call them on 0844 561 8111. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge.
If you are not currently a dot2dot customer and are interested in a free trial of the Croner-I Early Years Toolkit then please do not hesitate to contact the dot2dot team on 01204 570 390.