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I've had a bad day - can I have some more words of wisdom please?


On the last day of term, a member of staff didn't turn up for work!


She had asked for the day off as she was struggling with childcare as it was inset day at the local school. Because we had no other staff available to cover that day (they were off on hol's that day or unavailable) the day was declined. We had a chat on several occasions and I went over how important it was to have back up for childcare and it was a difficult part of our job, especially inset days as we still have to work etc etc and run pre-school.

But she was advised on this occassion although I would like to help she couldn't have the day off. I did try to help by saying she could just come in for the time the children were with us and not stay for the clearing away.


Anyway the final day arrived and she just didn't show!!! - the party was hell as we were one short.


She is on probation as she only joined us in May and works two morning a week.


My committee took legal advice and invited her in for a disiplinary meeting today - lets say it was stormy.....

She has ranted and raved and my chairperson, and I have come out feeling totally exhausted wondering what more we can do.


Basically she has stated she is entitled to time off to look after her children!

I should just have given her the day off as she asked!

she asked me for advice and I should try and sort her childcare out - I've let her down.


Sorry I could scream!! I am well aware how difficult it can be combining work and family , and at interview we go through the need to have a good support network, etc and as we all have children we regularly swap, cover, let staff come in late etc.

Just on this occasion there was no one else. We try to work together, but it can be hard being a small pre-school we only have limited staff to call on and sometimes we have to say no.


I've just checked out all about dependents leave on acas and she would have been entitled to take it if her childcare problems were due to an emergency - but this wasn't.


How do you all cope with these situations - I'm feeling pretty useless and it looks like I have lost another member of staff

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oh dear how horrible for you... it is very difficult and i in the past have let staff bring thier children in (if there is no other option) :o not ideal i know but just didnt know what else to do...


i do hope you can get it sorted - is there nothing in her contract about time off during working hours????

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I suppose the issue is what do you do now. Has the relationship with this member of staff completely broken down or is it worth now salvaging and moving forward. I would imagine that you are both feeling a bit raw about things that have ben said.


Is it helpful to perhaps try to see why your staff member did what she did. If she had really tried to find care and obviously could not leave her children on their own, was she then too embarassed to call you on the last day of term. Of course it made life hectic and possibly broke staff ratio restrictions.


So why did she feel so unable to do anything else or to talk to you again. Did she feel there was no other way. If so how can you now ensure that (if you want to retain your member of staff) this does not happen again.


At our nursery we try to always have a supply list difficult but usually the supervisor or manager can get someone when all else fails. I suppose I feel that at the end of the day it is not just this member of staffs responsibility especially if she has done all she felt she could to get cover.


A tough situation that you now need to work together to recover from

Just a though!

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It may be that she is thinking about her right to apply for flexible working hours, as the mother of children? However, this doesn't apply to the occasional day whenever it suits and an employer has a right to refuse if you can't manage to reorganise staff to accommodate them.


I can see why you are so agitated about this but its probably important to take a step back from it for a moment and put aside any feelings of animosity you have towards this person. Try to look at it completely dispassionately from both sides and examine all your interactions leading up to this. Try to be completely honest with yourself about whether or not you you really tried to think of alternative options for her and did your best to be understanding and flexible. As Hali has said, we have let staff bring their children into the group in the past when childcare has been a real problem, on the understanding that this option is only there in extreme circumstances and when all other options have been exhausted. Also, did you speak to her about why she didn't turn up on the day before taking legal advice? Did she contact you beforehand to say she wouldn't be in or just not turn up at all? Sorry, not much help but employing staff is an absolute minefield and you have to be really careful about how you proceed! Make sure you document everything, including dates and details of conversations, just in case.

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Thanks for all the advice - I am just at a bit of a lost and feeling battered, as I am in the middle.


No she didn't contact me to say she wouldn't be in and Unfortuantley at the end of term, I went on holiday that weekend and therefore reported it to my chair person, who took the legal advice and made the decision to send the letter for displianary action, whilst I was away.


I am therefore trying to support the commitee and the staffing. The committee have taken the view she is still on probation and we need to set our standards now.

I think I am slightly harder on this member of staff than usual over this ,just because since she has started in May her attendance hasn't been great, she has had 3 days sick - seperate incidents (only works 2 a week), been late repeatedly ( that I have spoken to her about) and has taken time out in the session to go to the Dr's and hospital and a sports day that I sanctioned as I wanted to be helpful.


I think I was a bit over cautious on this occasion about giving her another day off, as the other staff were upset by her attendance and were fed up covering and I was influenced by them as I didn't want to cause more upset to my full time, long timers. Which might not be right, but I have to consider the effect it would have on staff morale by giving her another day off.


Also I really had no one else to ask that day and it was always going to be manic as we had to clear the kitchen at the end of the day as well. All our normal people we would use for cover had there children home so weren't interested.


I had even considered letting her bring the child in, but I must admit I didn't want to open a huge can of worms.

I know if I had said she could do that I would quickly get other requests and didn't want to set a presedent, this happened long ago and we don't want to go back there.


It really is a huge problem especially as all our employees are mum's, we really try to support each other and it is give and take and everyone helps where they can.


It is now up to the committee and the member of staff, I will just have to wait and see

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I do empathise and agree with the comments about doing the best we can to be flexible, doing the best we can to support fellow working mums, ( or should I say parents, dads as well), and considering work/life balance. However, this employee, on probation does seem to have a poor history of commitment to her job.

The issue of employment and the need for childcare was highlighted at interview, and to be honest as childcare providers our first regard is to the National Standards, to have the correct ratio of staff per session, to maintain this we have to have clear expectations and practice requirements of our staff, this includes the requirement for staff to attend on their rota'd sessions. School term dates are given to parents well in advance, so this member of staff should have sorted it out. If she only works two days a week and with a little forsight why couldn't she have arranged to swap her session with another member of staff, for example.

I don't think it is the employers responsibility to organise childcare so that staff can 'do their job', any other employer, say in a bank, a shop, even a school head, any other service provider wouldn't so why do we feel we should? It is changing attitudes, we are a profession which has to meet legal requirements, an employee is responsible for meeting their contractual hours. If they don't then their employment status should be reconsidered.


Sorry that all sounds a bit harsh but as an example I employed 4 staff who all had children who attend school, we open at 8:45am so need staff in at 8:15, I had mammouth problems trying to organise rota's so that staff could take their child to school, and again the same problem at the end of the day school finished at 3pm we close at 3:15, staff stay until 3:45. I tried the helpful way but in the end it caused so many problems of jealousy, demotivation, the staff with no children felt they were doing the horrible set up and clear tasks whilst the others get away with it etc ( all having the same job descriptions)

In the end I have clearly stated to prospective employees that childcare issues relevant to employment hours are the responsibility of the employee. We do still swap sessions, support each other but in the understanding that the ultimate responsibility is to attend contracted hours.


This may not really help but hopefully puts a different perspective on this discussion.


I would suggest that to move forward the committee, who are the employees should ask you the supervisor what your arrangements are for 'general' staff cover, then with this information have a meeting with this employee and ask her how she is going to ensure this doesn't happen again, how she hs considered how she can ensure she attends her contracted hours.


I also have on my contracts the fact that dentist / doctors appointments should be made ( if possible) out of work hours.


Good luck, let us know how you get on.




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I totally agree with Peggy. Also, probation time is for that... to prove one is capable of the job... and this person, sadly enough, doesn't seem to fullfill what is required from a staff of member in this job. Now that she is in probation you can work this out, but if she doesn't change at the end of this period then she might have to find a job that is more within her possibilities.

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I think you have been very accommodating to this member of staff. As everyone has said we all help each other out because we all know how difficult in can be at times juggling everything. We are so lucky that nobody abuses this, we have very little staff sickness too. This member of staff only works two days a week, it should be possible to get doctor's/dentist's appointments outside of her working hours.


For the past few years I have brought my daughter to pre-school on teacher training days and there have never been any problems. I moved my working day to accommodate other staff but I explained my problem with teacher training days and the other staff offered this solution. She's twelve now, but she's always been a great help, I keep her busy, and the other chidren love having her to play with. This does not apply if she is ill of course. It probably only happens two or three times a year. It might be more difficult with a much younger child though. Another member of staff also brings in her son on teacher training days on occasion, usually different days as he is still at primary school.


I think the committee need to reiterate the times and conditions of employment and ask her if she thinks she can meet them. Otherwise, resentment amongst other staff will only grow.


Hope all is resolved soon, chin up!

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Good grief, sounds like my old collegue.

You must talk to her, calmly and quietly. Ask her if she really wants a job in childcare or is childcare just a job that lets her have all the holidays at home??

Ask her if she can see why doctors and dentists should always be outside of working hours where possible and if she only works 2 mornings then I'd make that a rule she sticks to.

How about holidays during term time, presumably you dont take them, is she aware of that? My collegue thumbed her nose at the rules and the committee and still had 2 weeks holiday 2 years running. Lots of bad feelings.

Honestly, for 2 mornings work I'd expect her to be there 100%. Hope it works ot for you :o

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Well reading this I am very lucky with my staff. They will swop at short notice if an emergency arises. Our staff are mixed ages ranging from 34-63 so half of us don't have a childcare problem which helps. The staff who have children are allowed to bring them in if they can't find childcare for them. In fact I look forward to seeing them again and they enjoy looking through all the old photo albums with the pre-school children. This also helps the younger ones to understand a sense of place /time.

This morning i was in Somerfield and the supervisor an ex-parent had to take over as relief because the absent staff member had phoned in to say it was a nice day so she was going to the beach.!! The supervisor said that this couldn't care attitude from many of the staff has made her hand in her notice and go back to being a childminder.

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Hi tess

I think this is a really tough one. I was an employer (not in childcare) for 15 years so I know how frustrating it is when you are let down by staff.

You don't mention about what sort of an employee this lady is. Does she get on well with the children and do her fair share? Is she someone that you would like to keep as a member of staff? Just asking this as I'm trying to figure out whether she is someone who is generally unreliable and not committed to her work or if maybe there is some other reason for her lateness/absence etc.

As a mum of 4, I decided to retrain in childcare mainly because it fitted around the kids. I've been a volunteer for a year at a local preschool and had no time off at all until the dreaded sickness bug arrived. My kids dont all have anything at once, they wait for one to recover before the next one goes down. I had to miss 3 consecutive Tuesdays and I felt so bad at letting them down but I did always give them as much notice as possible.

Maybe the employee in question doesnt have a good support network of friends or family or maybe she just doesnt like to ask. TEd days are always a pain for working parents and can be hard to account for as at my kid's school they don't always come with the year's calendar, they have an annoying habit of announcing them at the last minute.

It is always really hard to balance work and family which is why so many mums work in childcare. Unfortunately if kids are ill or you have no childcare for them it can be difficult and your children will always come first.

I'm guessing that things got a bit heated and comments were made in the heat of the moment. It would be a shame if you have lost a good employee but I understand that you have to be fair and be seen to be fair. Maybe in hindsight, if you had offered to let her bring her children in, the situation would have been resolved and you would have been far less stressed.


hope it all works out


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