Childcare problems: Ask the expert

I am having problems with childcare for three of the days I work and have asked for holiday days to cover this over the summer. I have been advised by my employer that as another member of the team is off at the same time I cannot have holiday days. I don’t know anyone I trust to do temporary childcare as my family are all on holiday.

Whilst all employees are entitled to a minimum number of annual leave days, they can only be taken at a time convenient to the employer – ie such that the business is not adversely affected (eg particularly busy periods or when other team members are on holiday/off sick etc).  The issue you raised would have to be ‘resolved’ by coming to some sort of arrangement with your employer and only if they were acting unreasonably might you have some sort of claim for unfair treatment…  The other type of leave with statutory requirements associated with it is that normally known as Dependents’ Care Leave – this is usually unpaid and requested/approved for ‘one off’ & unplanned situations such as having to take a child/elderly parent to hospital or time off to arrange care of a child/funeral of a close relative (someone dependent on you) etc.  This is not a right, however, and still has to be requested and is available subject to not having an adverse effect on the employer’s business – but because it is normally of an urgent/emotional nature, it is normally deemed unreasonable to refuse.  There is also Parental Leave which again is unpaid, but normally has to be taken in blocks of 1 week and is designed to enable those with parental responsibilities to care for their child – up to 4 weeks per year (and 13 weeks max in total up to when the child is 5).  Again, however, this has to be formally requested – normally with at least 4 weeks’ notice, and can be denied due to business reasons.  Therefore all you can do really is talk again with your employer, re-inforce your usual reliability and flexibility and see if they can honour your annual leave (or offer to take it unpaid) on reflection.

Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a fairly typical situation – I have no-one else to look after my children at any time so if they are ill, I share the days off with my husband. My boss has said that any more time off will result in me losing my job – as the company will have been deemed to have been flexible enough, I haven’t a leg to stand on. It’s hard enough being a working parent but in real life, laws and new legislation do little to help the ordinary parent with day-to-day issues.

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