My partner has a high powered job and would be unable to drop everything if our child was unwell and needed collecting from nursery once she returns from maternity leave. If something was wrong, I would need to be the one to leave work and pick them up. How do I approach this with my employer and handle this situation? Is this a conversation I should be having now?
At workingdads.co.uk we’ve brought together a team of experts to answer your questions. We call them….The Dadvengers.
We know working dads have concerns. It might be a HR query about applying for flexible working. Or maybe you find it hard to switch off from work and give your family your full attention. Maybe you’ve taken some time out to raise your kids and you’re looking to get back into the workplace. We know people that can help, so get in touch.
This week Kerry Howard, portfolio people director at HR experts People Puzzles, helps a new dad who knows he’s going to be the one on call and doesn’t want it to be an issue at work.
This is a great question and one that many a working dad has pondered. You know that you have rights, but don’t want to be seen as “that person”, so how to broach it best with your employer.
My advice would be to be upfront and have the conversation early. Be positive in your approach and explain that you are looking for a solution that works for all parties. Your employer is likely to ask you what time you think you may need and at this stage, you don’t know.
I would explain that when your wife returns to work, you may need to pick up your child on occasion, should there be an emergency or illness. You aren’t making a flexible working request, (although you do have the right to do this, should you decide that you would like flexibility in your hours to assist with childcare or nursery pick ups and drop offs). You are essentially asking for something that under legislation, is called “time off for dependents” and is something that anyone with dependents (not just children) is entitled to request.
Time off for dependents means that you can request time off for emergencies and unforeseen matters, including illness. This time off can be used to make alternative arrangements for care, or to take care of your child if they are ill and no alternative care can be found. You cannot use this for planned doctors or medical appointments as you know about these in advance, it really is for emergencies and unforeseen matters.
Time off for dependents is unpaid which is another thing you may want to consider. Do you want to have the ability to make up any time that you take off, or are you happy to have the time as unpaid? Employers tend to look more favourably if you are willing to make the time up, although you don’t have to offer this, especially if you would struggle to.
So, in essence, you have the right to have the time that you need on an as and when basis, so go ahead and have the chat.
Kerry Howard is a People Director at People Puzzles, who provide part time senior HR resource for ambitious mid tier businesses. They work collaboratively to manage and solve the people issues so that businesses can continue to thrive and grow.