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cvdbout
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Hope someone with more experience than I can offer advice!

Our pre-school has a rule (in contract and in policy) that no holidays are to be taken while the pre-school is open. The manager has always allowed staff to swap shifts for special one-off occasions (50th birthdays, big wedding anniversarys, their childrens graduations etc) which has so far worked well and noone has abused the system and respected that days would be given like that for one-off things.

We have an employee who has requested the last day of term off to go on holiday early - the manager said no, and the committee all said no (committee run pre-school). Having called PLA they advised that because of these one-off occasions being allowed we've set precedent for holidays being taken during term time.

I was wondering how other settings deal with this issue? There are so many events that are important to people (weddings, funerals, graduations etc) that I feel issuing a blanket no days off rule would encourage staff to phone in sick.

I also don't feel that is the core of the problem - our contracts are written for the hours required in September, and are not updated as the hours increase - though I was advised by PLA that this is irrelevant if the contract states that holidays will not be taken when school is open (unless by agreement with the manager).

I am supposed to be meeting with the staff tomorrow but I literally have no idea the best way forward :unsure:

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I also feel a precedent has been set with one off days and swapping for events..

In addition she has asked, given plenty of advance notice when she could so easily have booked it and taken the day off sick anyway..or booked more days holiday in term time.. had it been for a wedding or a graduation on that day would you have refused?

Lots of questions... is the reason for refusal just because it involved the word holiday.. what impact has it really.. is it a battle really worth fighting for (one day)... likelihood is she will not be there that day whatever you say... not enough of an issue to sack her... she could have a warning if you want to go that route.. but it needs clarifying what it is for.. chances are if you do, another time staff will take it as sick time and no warning in advance to avoid an issue.. personally I would rather grant the time off .. with a comment that you hope it will not happen again..with time to sort out staffing etc if needed, than have unhappy and disgruntled staff .

We had a rule that only one member could be granted holiday at a time in term time.. and only if unavoidable.. that one day could be a huge cost difference.. or only time they could get together as a family.. many reasons..

as to contracts.. ours did not stipulate any hours to be worked.. with hours added during the year.. removed in september.. also said no holidays in term time... but when we all worked well together found give and take and mutual respect for individual needs went a long way for a happy working environment.

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We also have a rule that no holidays are to be taken in term time apart from special occasions/funerals/weddings etc and I've stuck to it 100% I'm afraid. We have lost a member of staff through this but she was going for 1 or 2 week holidays every term!

Personally I would sit down and say something like I'm really sorry but this rule has been put in place for everyone so to be fair to all we have to stick by it. I would then set in process the disciplinary procedure and give a verbal warning that they are breaking their contract by holidaying in term time. Explain that it is not something you enjoy doing but it is something that has to be done......

I know that sounds really harsh but if you have set rules then everyone has to stick to them. If it is "just" a holiday she is going on why could it not be booked 1 day later? If you let one member of staff go on holiday then all other staff will also be expecting the same treatment.

I'm going to be looked upon as a right ogre now I'm sure but I would love to have a holiday in term time to save money etc etc but I also have to stick to the rules like the rest of my staff..... Also if your setting is anything like mine then the last day of term will be horrendously busy and we need all hands on deck.

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We know we have to allow her that day off because of the precedent set, so that's no longer the issue - its as mrsbat said, if one member of staff go on holiday when the contract says no holidays during term time, we have to allow it to all of them. She is going on this day because they have air miles and this is the one and only day she can go on air miles(she had initially asked for 2 days off though) - I don't know how accurate that statement is, but I do know airmiles are funny things to book flights with.

Another aspect of it is she is from South East Asia, and seems to feel that this then entitles her to go when it's cheaper, and saying that because it's so far to travel it is not just a holiday. I don't see how we can bend the rules for this without then being accused of discrimination - we have 4 staff members who are all from the UK, and 2 from SEA; the other staff member from SEA sticks to the rules whenever she returns there.

The manager and I have decided as of September the rules will have to be adhered to or there will be disciplinary action.

The day she has asked off is indeed the last day of term and will affect the operation of the pre-school.

mrsbat - how do you define special occasion? I'm also not sure we have a staff disciplinary procedure in writing, will need to double check tomorrow when I am there - I certainly don't have a copy of it here.

My concern is if we have already set precedent by allowing one-off days (where the staff will swap shifts with another), if we say no you can't go on this holiday she will pursue the matter further. That's why we've come to the decision of September to enforce the rule - it'll give staff time to get used to it, and is a fresh start after a hard summer term.

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Special occasions we have listed as weddings, funerals, achievements such as graduations etc - basically things that do not have a choice in being moved....... I have to say that apart from the 1 member of staff who left no one has complained and everyone has stuck by this rule. We only allow one off days off/staff swapping for things like hospital appointments etc - not just if someone fancies going shopping or visiting family etc - but most of my staff work part time so they have other options for doing this during the week too.

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I am going to go against the grain here. We do allow holidays during term time :o .

We discussed it as a team, we are small very close team (8) and now we all work a max of 4 days per week. This means we always have cover if needed. We have rules - cover dates are checked/confirmed before any bookings made, and obviously only one at a time. They know this time off is unpaid - and overall holiday pay is adjusted to reflect the hours worked over the year.

The reason for this is - I feel the staff work extremely hard, do loads of unpaid work, therefore they deserve to be able to take a cheaper holiday. To be honest it doesn't really happen much, as most have children in school anyway.

All our children are comfortable with all staff and each has a back-up key person throughout the year- so that is not an issue for us.

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And we swap the odd days off too! So for example someone wants a long week-end away then they are able to swap to accommodate this.

It keeps our team happy - especially as the 'days off' person has to bring suitable treats back for rest of staff (and that bit's non-negotiable).

 

Sorry, I just do not feel they are paid anywhere enough to not be flexible if we can.

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Special occasions we have listed as weddings, funerals, achievements such as graduations etc - basically things that do not have a choice in being moved....... I have to say that apart from the 1 member of staff who left no one has complained and everyone has stuck by this rule. We only allow one off days off/staff swapping for things like hospital appointments etc - not just if someone fancies going shopping or visiting family etc - but most of my staff work part time so they have other options for doing this during the week too.

How do you deal with staff taking time off to look after sick children?

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I do totally agree with you louby lou - none of us get paid anywhere near what we deserve, BUT we had so many issues with staff taking holidays frequently (many of our staff at the time had no children or they had all grown up and left so they wanted to go in term time, because of this we had comments from parents saying thy don't know who their key person is and it loaded more work onto other staff having to take on the extra key child work and at the end of the day if I'm brutally honest the children just didn't want to interact with these staff because they just didn't know them well enough because they were so often on holiday. It also caused bad feeling with staff who didn't go on holiday......We need 9 staff working when we have both rooms open because of the ages/ratios so if anyone is on holiday we risk not having cover if someone is sick etc. Everything works differently for different people I guess and what works for some doesn't for others :)

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How do you deal with staff taking time off to look after sick children?

I'm a parent myself and of course I am sympathetic to this and we work round these things but it is different to choosing to take time off for holidays in term time

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I do totally agree with you louby lou - none of us get paid anywhere near what we deserve, BUT we had so many issues with staff taking holidays frequently (many of our staff at the time had no children or they had all grown up and left so they wanted to go in term time, because of this we had comments from parents saying thy don't know who their key person is and it loaded more work onto other staff having to take on the extra key child work and at the end of the day if I'm brutally honest the children just didn't want to interact with these staff because they just didn't know them well enough because they were so often on holiday. It also caused bad feeling with staff who didn't go on holiday......We need 9 staff working when we have both rooms open because of the ages/ratios so if anyone is on holiday we risk not having cover if someone is sick etc. Everything works differently for different people I guess and what works for some doesn't for others :)

Very true :1b

We are very lucky with our team at the moment. Also I think a lot depends on the hours you are open too.

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I don't see how it is enforceable. Surely staff will just invent special occasions if they want the odd day off. I try as far as possible to let staff have time off when requested. We do say no holidays in term time but are flexible on the odd day or two. Also unless you have a set list who decides what constitutes special occasion? Why for example is a 50th birthday any more special than a 48th birthday? A child's graduation any more important than a child's school trip etc?

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It drives me mad if I'm totally honest - so much so, today I've said if anyone else wants any time off next week then we will have to close :(

I did hope the introduction of fines for school aged children (all my staff have school aged children) might stop holidays in term time but no; they will pay the fine as its still cheaper than going away in school hols.

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I have to disagree, if it were me not being granted time for occasions like graduation, I would have just gone I would miss my daughters graduation for anything likewise friends funerals or my sisters wedding. I would have gone sick. Which causes trying to find cover at short notice and lying.

 

I have worked in this sector for 20 yrs and think harsh that we can't allow time for these including special holidays

 

I have a rule that provided they have covered themselves and only I person off then it's ok. No one takes the 'mick' they each will cover when someone is sick or on a course and will all do extra when I ask to cover me for paperwork. They all have young children and do not take them out of school for holidays. In fact I am having 2 days prior to half term so I can have a much cheaper holiday. My staff actually said to me to go early and they will cover.

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I have to disagree, if it were me not being granted time for occasions like graduation, I would have just gone I would miss my daughters graduation for anything likewise friends funerals or my sisters wedding. I would have gone sick. Which causes trying to find cover at short notice and lying.

 

I have worked in this sector for 20 yrs and think harsh that we can't allow time for these including special holidays

 

I have a rule that provided they have covered themselves and only I person off then it's ok. No one takes the 'mick' they each will cover when someone is sick or on a course and will all do extra when I ask to cover me for paperwork. They all have young children and do not take them out of school for holidays. In fact I am having 2 days prior to half term so I can have a much cheaper holiday. My staff actually said to me to go early and they will cover.

I totally agree with you Suer - I never say no to staff and we also have the only 1 person off at a time rule; give and take is what it should all be about

however they all agree with only 1 off at a time, they just can't bide by the rule if it affects them personally.

I have 3 staff who want to be off and being the kind of person I am I always grant it - but we only have 2 cover staff which means that we are running right on ratio, if some one phones in sick we will have to close :(

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I have to disagree, if it were me not being granted time for occasions like graduation, I would have just gone I would miss my daughters graduation for anything likewise friends funerals or my sisters wedding. I would have gone sick. Which causes trying to find cover at short notice and lying.

 

I have worked in this sector for 20 yrs and think harsh that we can't allow time for these including special holidays

 

I have a rule that provided they have covered themselves and only I person off then it's ok. No one takes the 'mick' they each will cover when someone is sick or on a course and will all do extra when I ask to cover me for paperwork. They all have young children and do not take them out of school for holidays. In fact I am having 2 days prior to half term so I can have a much cheaper holiday. My staff actually said to me to go early and they will cover.

Sorry I think I might have mis typed something, We DO allow time off for graduation, weddings, funerals etc.

You and the majority of others are lucky that staff don't take the mick whereas unfortunately at my setting they were - which is the only reason term time holidays have been banned :)

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We have a give and take approach too. As we have a large pool of staff we are able to cover the odd occasions when time off is requested and work as a team to cover accordingly.( they all understand the most important thing is that the setting continues to run in anyone's absence).

As the precedent appears to have already been set I would find it hard to say yes to one and not another. I think as a team you could all sit together and work out a conclusion that listens to everyone's views and moving forward makes a decision based on the needs of your provision.

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The system we operate on at the moment, where staff can cover for each other as long as it's agreed with the manager has always worked for years. In fact, noone can remember the last time we had to call bank staff. The problem we are now facing is future precedent - if a new member of staff joins they would be within their rights to take holidays during term time, despite it being in their contract and in policy that holidays are not to be taken when the school is open.

The system we have is open to abuse, and in the past it has been abused - staff members swapping days because they were going to the olympics and fancied some shopping before hand. Manager has allowed this as the staff were fairly happy (fairly, not totally) to cover, but in this instance the staff were not happy at having to cover for a holiday - they all follow the rules, no holidays during term time, and days can be swapped for special occasions.

Ill be meeting with staff today, and explain to them that we have ideas, but we'd all rather they came to an agreement themselves. The manager is in favour of a blanket no, which wouldn't work as staff would start making up occasions that warrant days off. We're thinking that for a while all special occasions will have to be referred to committee who will seek legal advice on if that would set precedent.

Everything I can think has problems, so hopefully the staff will figure out something that works for all of them.

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I would change the wording in the contract to say holidays are not to be taken in term time, however special one off days will be considered if, hen list your considerations. Also state that there may be times I.e. summer term that days will not be granted for anything other than...funerals, graduations or whatever you all decide on. Tighten it up so everyone understands

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I would change the wording in the contract to say holidays are not to be taken in term time, however special one off days will be considered if, hen list your considerations. Also state that there may be times I.e. summer term that days will not be granted for anything other than...funerals, graduations or whatever you all decide on. Tighten it up so everyone understands

Thanks, that's a great idea. Just need to come up with a list! Luckily my husband is a contract lawyer so he knows correct wording and stuff.

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Yeah, the best way forward is probably to define what a "special day" is, but also continue to push that it is at the manager's discretion too.

 

Because to be honest, whether special days are allowed or not, if it states it's at the managers discretion and the manager says no, no wrong has been done and nothing can be done about it.

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