Employee taking time off for childcare- yet their spouse won't.

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by bodgitt&scarperLTD, May 8, 2021.

  1. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

    592 287
    I have the following situation. It's coming up to two years employment, so crunch time.

    Bullet points:

    Employee is generally great. Skilled, punctual, etc. Always cheery (although see below) However there are the following snags.

    They have carpal tunnel. Whilst this is entirely not their fault, it is costing a lot of time off. Luckily I only offer SSP.

    They are on antidepressants. Again, not their fault- but I am worried about how this could blow up on me in the future. I think I'm fairly well covered by only having SSP in the contract.

    The third issue is more pressing. They have a child, who is frankly a sickly brat. Covid and stricter nursey rules have exaccerbated the situation this last year- no nursey with any sniffles. They will constantly just drop me in it, and tell me they can't be in. I can work around this, but it's annoying. What annoys me the most is their partner. A teacher, who will not share the childcare.

    I don't want to hear about 'key workers' etc. As far as I'm concerned, days off due to childcare should be split equally between employers. It would even work to their favour, as the school will just get a substitute in, AND their spouse would be paid anyway (my employee is not). Yet this has never been the case, and it annoys me. Moreover, it's very hard to get them to work a weekend to make up for lost time, which is not great when I have clients on my back.

    My gut feeling is to let things continue, but offer no pay rises, etc to compensate for the hassle. Overall they are an asset to the business, I do like having them around, and I can work around it. I'm mainly worried about how I would stand letting them go further down the line if it became even more of a problem. I think I'd struggle to let them go under redundancy rules, so what happens if they take even more time off with no notice, perhaps even combined with the antidepressants not working and end up unproductive? To be blunt (and this is a business forum), could I use disciplinary procedures for unauthorised absence due to childcare (and spouse refusing to share the burden) I'm aware that I'd have to be very clear that the depression was not the issue, and to be fair I'm not worried about that as they've been very stable all the time they've worked for me- there's never been any time off due to it.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #1
  2. Andre78

    Andre78 UKBF Contributor

    160 17
    Can't you have an informal chat with him and explain that you can't build a business around someone randomly taking unpaid annual leave for child care. Inform him that you will record the discussion as it is an ongoing issue that is detrimental to the business and you might be compelled to make it a disciplinary matter. Then you have some ammo for after 2 years is up.

    Or sack him. Harsh as it is. My recent experience with an employee has hardened me to this sort of thing. I paid for my delay to action.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Andre78 Member since: Feb 21, 2013
    #2
  3. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Legend

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    Childcare falling entirely on one partner in a relationship is, sadly, very common. You don't indicate here but, usually, it is the woman. It is not, however, your business. Your employee needs time off for childcare. If it is an emergency, for example the nursery will not take the child because it has sniffles, they are legally entitled to (paid or unpaid) time off to arrange alternative care. Not to time off to provide the care. Hopefully the need for time off will diminish as the child gets older.

    Dismissing someone with less than 2 years' service is easier than doing so after 2 years. But it is not without difficulties.

    Redundancy is out of the question. It is only redundancy if your need for work of a particular type in a particular place has diminshed - your worry is that the work is not getting done, so it is not redundancy.

    Breach of contract because of repeated absence is a possibility, but, in this case, it is dangerous. Absence for carpal tunnel and/or depression reasons may be covered by disability discrimination laws- the employee is disabled if they have a condition which (if medication is not taken) has a substantial effect on their normal day to day life. I cannot advise whether they are disabled within the meaning of the Equalities Act, but they may be.

    There is also a danger of indirect sex discrimination if the dismissal is related to the employee needing childcare time and if they are a woman - childcare, as I said, falls disproportionately on women. There is also the fact that there is a statutory right to take time for arranging dependent care.

    I would suggest a chat about options. Perhaps reducing hours or any possibility of working from home?
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #3
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  4. Andre78

    Andre78 UKBF Contributor

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    I'm sure I read somewhere that a business is entitled at any time and for any reason within the first 2 years of employment to dismiss an employee. Am I misinformed?
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Andre78 Member since: Feb 21, 2013
    #4
  5. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Legend

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    That is an over-simplification. An employee cannot claim simple unfair dismissal until they have been employed for 2 years. But there are a huge number of matters that do not need 2 years - dismissal for a protected characteristic (discrimination) or for asserting a statutory right or for whistle-blowing are a few trhat spring immediately to mind.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
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  6. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Legend

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    Yes.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
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  7. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

    592 287
    Sadly working from home is a non starter. Reducing hours the same- unless we can book for little Timmy to be sick on the same day! :D We are tradespeople.

    I like this person, and my gut feeling is that they are overall a net contributor to the business. If my liability can be limited to SSP and some inconvenience, I feel that I will be able to mitigate the inconvenience by being stingy with benefits and pay increases.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #7
  8. Andre78

    Andre78 UKBF Contributor

    160 17
    Sorry. I meant with the exception of a protected characteristic.

    I mean, if you simply couldn't keep the work coming in and couldn't afford that employee, they would have to go. Obviously last in, first out.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Andre78 Member since: Feb 21, 2013
    #8
  9. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Legend

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    Just be careful that the stinginess cannot be seen as discrimination!
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
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  10. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Legend

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    I can understand the teacher not being able to help out, chances are they earn substantial more money than this guy. Hard decision, I think from what you mention things are likely to continue in the same vein, or get worse.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
    #10
  11. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Legend

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    Potential for age discimination there! :confused:
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #11
  12. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

    592 287
    Similar money. But the teacher would be paid for their absense, so they as a family would actually be better off!

    I think it's the usual teacher self sacrifice due to idealism/martyr complex(I come from a family of teachers!)
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #12
  13. japancool

    japancool UKBF Legend

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    Are you suggesting you'd discipline them because their spouse doesn't share the burden of childcare?
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #13
  14. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

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    If it was legal, then yes. Take your bleeding heart elsewhere, I have a real business to run.

    As it is not legal (thanks Cyndi) then no.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #14
  15. japancool

    japancool UKBF Legend

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    Then why are you even bringing it into the conversation?

    In what alternate reality did you think it would even possibly be legal?
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #15
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  16. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

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    I had no idea if it was legal or not, hence asking the question. In what alternate reality is that not the way business works? You operate within the confines of the law, and if unsure you seek advice.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #16
  17. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend

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    You can dictate to your employee how they operate at work.
    You don't have ability to dictate their childcare arrangements or how they deal with arranging care. That is outside work so outside your ability to get involved unless offering some service of childcare on site yourself.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #17
  18. MarkOnline

    MarkOnline UKBF Big Shot

    460 158
    If I was concerned about how their behaviour could affect the ability of the company to function properly and grow I would legally terminate their employment asap. If that involved additional cost I would rather pay that now than pay much more in the future.
    Experiences have taught me to move people on as quickly as possible if they arent the right fit for us.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: MarkOnline Member since: Apr 25, 2020
    #18
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  19. bodgitt&scarperLTD

    bodgitt&scarperLTD Full Member

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    Oh God, I spelt it with an 'i'. I know you hate that., Sorry Cyndy.

    I even checked the spelling and took the 'i' at the front out. I tried, honest!
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: bodgitt&scarperLTD Member since: Nov 26, 2018
    #19
  20. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Legend

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    That's OK, I understand that you are trying.:p:p:p
     
    Posted: May 8, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #20