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  • FIRST POST
    • dk5294
    • By dk5294 21st Oct 19, 7:20 PM
    • 175Posts
    • 21Thanks
    dk5294
    Do parents of disabled children have rights?
    • #1
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:20 PM
    Do parents of disabled children have rights? 21st Oct 19 at 7:20 PM
    Can anyone help? I live in Scotland so I know the law may be different. Sorry if its long wanted to cover everything.

    I have two disabled children who require routine and sometimes emergency appointments. I have kept my employer in the loop about each condition and have provided letters to prove diagnosis. I work 35hrs a week with 1hr unpaid lunch 5 days a week.

    Until recently I was able to juggle appointments by working my lunch breaks, however as my son's disability becomes more complex it is becoming harder to meet all his appointments and my daughters and sadly there is no one else who can take them.

    I asked my employer if I could take unpaid leave to attend these appointments - which he refused as it would be seen as treating me differently from my colleagues. I then made a request to reduce my working hours to allow me to work 28hrs over 5 days and for me to be at work during core hours. Until 5 months ago an ex colleague done this but over 4 days. My employer has advised that although he hasn't made a decision, he is struggling to see how it wouldn't impact the workplace and my children's medical appointments are creating discord as it is and "my life should revolve around the work place, not the other way around." is there anything at all I can do? Quitting my job isn't an option - he knows this. I have also used annual leave to cover appointments and for emergencies however he is not happy with me doing this at short notice.
Page 1
    • Blatchford
    • By Blatchford 21st Oct 19, 7:39 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 474 Thanks
    Blatchford
    • #2
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:39 PM
    • #2
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:39 PM
    He's unsympathetic, yes, but I'm afraid he's correct. I don't agree that anyone's life should revolve around work, but your employment is there for you to be at work, and business needs are all the employer cares about. If your are taking leave at short notice (not a right) and flexible or reduced working hours cannot be accommodated (theirs a right to ask, not to get), and if it really is causing problems in the workplace, then there's nothing else that I can suggest.

    Technically, there is such a thing discrimination by association, but it isn't easy to demonstrate. You would have to show that that you were being treated differently than others simply because of your disabled children. That doesn't honestly appear to be the case. It seems that your children's conditions are beginning more and more demanding in terms of care. That isn't the employers problem.

    Have you made a case for how your proposal would benefit the employer / solve their problems? Because that is the usual way of winning such things.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 21st Oct 19, 7:40 PM
    • 10,183 Posts
    • 12,354 Thanks
    Comms69
    • #3
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:40 PM
    • #3
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:40 PM
    Can anyone help? I live in Scotland so I know the law may be different. Sorry if its long wanted to cover everything.

    I have two disabled children who require routine and sometimes emergency appointments. I have kept my employer in the loop about each condition and have provided letters to prove diagnosis. I work 35hrs a week with 1hr unpaid lunch 5 days a week.

    Until recently I was able to juggle appointments by working my lunch breaks, however as my son's disability becomes more complex it is becoming harder to meet all his appointments and my daughters and sadly there is no one else who can take them.

    I asked my employer if I could take unpaid leave to attend these appointments - which he refused as it would be seen as treating me differently from my colleagues. I then made a request to reduce my working hours to allow me to work 28hrs over 5 days and for me to be at work during core hours. Until 5 months ago an ex colleague done this but over 4 days. My employer has advised that although he hasn't made a decision, he is struggling to see how it wouldn't impact the workplace and my children's medical appointments are creating discord as it is and "my life should revolve around the work place, not the other way around." is there anything at all I can do? Quitting my job isn't an option - he knows this. I have also used annual leave to cover appointments and for emergencies however he is not happy with me doing this at short notice.
    Originally posted by dk5294


    Well he's an idiot, both morally and to some degree legally.


    How long have you worked there?
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 21st Oct 19, 7:50 PM
    • 4,403 Posts
    • 3,825 Thanks
    Undervalued
    • #4
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:50 PM
    • #4
    • 21st Oct 19, 7:50 PM
    As far as I am aware (but do check) the same rules apply in Scotland.

    Your rights are to short periods of unpaid leave to deal with unexpected emergencies with dependants. Both short and emergencies are not specifically defined but it is generally taken to mean a day or so or just long enough to arrange something rather than to do the caring yourself. So routine planned medical appointments don't qualify. Lots of employers are far more generous in these matters but they don't have to be.

    Your employer could perfectly well choose to allow you to take lots of unpaid leave but they don't have to. Equally they don't have to treat all employees the same as long as they don't discriminate on legally protected grounds (gender, religion, race etc).

    It is also worth noting that if you are married (or have a partner) then the employer can reasonably expect and emergency leave to be equally shared between the two of you. Often it is tempting for the lower paid parent to take the unpaid leave, for obvious reasons, but the employer could justifiably object to this if they found out.

    Whilst you have a right to apply for flexible working and the employer must consider the request, they can refuse it on business grounds. Obviously you could challenge such a refusal if your felt the business grounds weren't genuine but you would need proper professional advice before going down that route.

    So I fear this is a difficult one if your employer doesn't want to be helpful.
    Last edited by Undervalued; 21-10-2019 at 7:56 PM.
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 22nd Oct 19, 5:50 AM
    • 4,229 Posts
    • 5,654 Thanks
    unforeseen
    • #5
    • 22nd Oct 19, 5:50 AM
    • #5
    • 22nd Oct 19, 5:50 AM
    I struggle to see how a flexible work request that still covers core hours is of much use. Most medical appts fall within core hours.

    Flexible doesn't mean that you alter your start/finish times on a daily basis to fit in with YOUR plans. If that is your thinking and how you put it to your boss then I can understand why he believes it will impact the business unduly. You are basically saying that you want to organise your work around your needs and adjust your work time at short notice.
    • Ozzuk
    • By Ozzuk 22nd Oct 19, 8:50 AM
    • 1,699 Posts
    • 2,450 Thanks
    Ozzuk
    • #6
    • 22nd Oct 19, 8:50 AM
    • #6
    • 22nd Oct 19, 8:50 AM
    When you put your request in did you just ask for an hours reduction, or did you point out the benefits to employer, impact to team, how issues would be handled etc? The more effort you put in the more likely the employer will look at it favourably (though not always the case). If it was ambigous - 'I want to work flexibly' then you don't stand much chance.
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 22nd Oct 19, 9:55 AM
    • 4,403 Posts
    • 3,825 Thanks
    Undervalued
    • #7
    • 22nd Oct 19, 9:55 AM
    • #7
    • 22nd Oct 19, 9:55 AM
    I struggle to see how a flexible work request that still covers core hours is of much use. Most medical appts fall within core hours.

    Flexible doesn't mean that you alter your start/finish times on a daily basis to fit in with YOUR plans. If that is your thinking and how you put it to your boss then I can understand why he believes it will impact the business unduly. You are basically saying that you want to organise your work around your needs and adjust your work time at short notice.
    Originally posted by unforeseen
    Well, it could do in some situations.

    It depends entirely on the working arrangements. Some business could easily accommodate very flexible work patterns, whereas with others it would be highly disruptive of impossible.

    It is not very difficult for a company that doesn't want to be helpful to find a lawful (or at least very difficult to challenge) way of turning such requests down.

    You also need to consider the real world situation if you manage to legally force an arrangement the employer doesn't like. In a large organisation, particularly one that is unionised, it may be manageable but in a smaller company it could create an awful working environment.
    • Exodi
    • By Exodi 22nd Oct 19, 10:32 AM
    • 868 Posts
    • 1,089 Thanks
    Exodi
    • #8
    • 22nd Oct 19, 10:32 AM
    • #8
    • 22nd Oct 19, 10:32 AM
    I asked my employer if I could take unpaid leave to attend these appointments - which he refused as it would be seen as treating me differently from my colleagues.
    Originally posted by dk5294
    I then made a request to reduce my working hours to allow me to work 28hrs over 5 days and for me to be at work during core hours. Until 5 months ago an ex colleague done this but over 4 days.
    Originally posted by dk5294
    Your OP could serve as a textbook example of why employers should deny unpaid leave requests - you followed it up by (whether deliberately or not) citing past examples of concessions made to other employees.

    I think you should start exploring other possibilities in regards to your sons appointments. I don't think you'll convert him by bludgeoning away with increasingly more exotic ways to get time off.
    Know what you don't
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 22nd Oct 19, 11:50 AM
    • 4,403 Posts
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    Undervalued
    • #9
    • 22nd Oct 19, 11:50 AM
    • #9
    • 22nd Oct 19, 11:50 AM
    ...and the real world situation that, if you have a flexible working request approved (or "legally forced"; you make it sound like a bad thing!!), any subsequent treatment which is related to that, and which is less favourable, may be open to challenge at Employment Tribunal. More so in regard to "automatically unfair dismissal" reasons which can include:

    - Reasons relating to "time off for dependants"

    - Reasons relating to "being a part-time or fixed-term employee"

    https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/unfair-dismissals

    Personally, I think that any employer who approves a FWR and then starts getting arsey about it is a fool. AND they would be wise to be a bit careful about declining it without a sound business justification.

    I think, and I said it before, that OP needs to get the companies' final decision on the FWR and not be persuaded to withdraw it before this happens (which seems to be the case). Then seek some advice, maybe on here (though it is a bit employer-centric at times; thou shall not allow employees to "legally force" a FWR request through so someone can care for their dependents) or maybe from ACAS. I suspect that this issue is a tad trickier than we appreciate on here, and there may be scope to be a bit critical.

    Edit: huge apologies if the law is different in Scotland, OP, but I hope you get a flavour of what to look up.
    Originally posted by Les79
    Well I agree with the line I have highlighted!

    It is very easy for keyboard warriors to tell people to stand on their rights and the letter of the law. As I said, in the "real world" that is far easier to do in some situations than in others. Yes, that is not how it should be but it is a realistic statement of fact.

    I agree the OP should take professional advice, preferably from a solicitor. Keep in mind that at the first level ACAS is a call centre staffed by largely non legally qualified staff with only a certain level of training. It is not their function to give legal advice.
    • nicechap
    • By nicechap 22nd Oct 19, 11:50 AM
    • 1,881 Posts
    • 3,291 Thanks
    nicechap
    Can anyone help? I live in Scotland so I know the law may be different. Sorry if its long wanted to cover everything.

    I have two disabled children who require routine and sometimes emergency appointments. I have kept my employer in the loop about each condition and have provided letters to prove diagnosis. I work 35hrs a week with 1hr unpaid lunch 5 days a week.

    Until recently I was able to juggle appointments by working my lunch breaks, however as my son's disability becomes more complex it is becoming harder to meet all his appointments and my daughters and sadly there is no one else who can take them.

    I asked my employer if I could take unpaid leave to attend these appointments - which he refused as it would be seen as treating me differently from my colleagues. I then made a request to reduce my working hours to allow me to work 28hrs over 5 days and for me to be at work during core hours. Until 5 months ago an ex colleague done this but over 4 days. My employer has advised that although he hasn't made a decision, he is struggling to see how it wouldn't impact the workplace and my children's medical appointments are creating discord as it is and "my life should revolve around the work place, not the other way around." is there anything at all I can do? Quitting my job isn't an option - he knows this. I have also used annual leave to cover appointments and for emergencies however he is not happy with me doing this at short notice.
    Originally posted by dk5294
    Is there really no one else that can take them? What does their other parent(s) do? No extended family or friends nearby? Is there a charity for their condition(s) that offer respite/ help/ legal advice? Have you asked their medical teams for additional help/ social services?

    It sounds as if your employer has already been quite flexible but the change in your son's requirements seems a step too far for you and them to cope with. Submitting a flexible working request seems sensible, have you set out how it will benefit the business and lesson the need for short notice periods of absence? My assumption would be working less hours over the same days wouldn't in itself.

    As the balance of power in your current working relationship is with your employer, you need to consider your options carefully. Have you thought of going self-employed or doing consultancy work? What kind of work & working hours would meet your needs?

    EDITED TO ADD: It would seem there is more of a back story as to why the employer might not be willing to be flexible. The OP never updated their other thread either.

    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=6003877
    Last edited by nicechap; 22-10-2019 at 12:03 PM.
    Originally Posted by shortcrust
    "Contact the Ministry of Fairness....If sufficient evidence of unfairness is discovered you’ll get an apology, a permanent contract with backdated benefits, a ‘Let’s Make it Fair!’ tshirt and mug, and those guilty of unfairness will be sent on a Fairness Awareness course."
    • elsien
    • By elsien 22nd Oct 19, 11:55 AM
    • 20,046 Posts
    • 51,031 Thanks
    elsien
    You mention an ex-colleague who used to do the hours you are suggesting. You do need to consider if there is a reason those hours were stopped (other than the person leaving.) if the employer tried it then found it didn't work for them then they would have a case for not wanting to go down that route again.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
    • Blatchford
    • By Blatchford 22nd Oct 19, 12:33 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 474 Thanks
    Blatchford
    I realise that there is a small number of people on here who think that telling people what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear, is "employer-centric". So lets look at this "employee-centric"...

    No matter how sympatthic we may want to be on a personal basis with someone who has two disabled children, both of which have complex needs and require both routine and emergency treatments on a regular basis, if we happen to be the posters colleagues who:
    - can't just claim holiday at the last minute because they want or need it
    - aren't asking for lots of time off during working hours (paid or unpaid)
    - have to carry the worklload of the person who is doing all this (no matter how justified the ask may be)

    exactly how would you, as the colleagues, feel about it. Because that is a legitimate business concern, and one which the manager here has highlighted because they are getting complaints about the poster getting all this time off (for whatever reason). This is the real world situation. And the employer has a duty to be fair to everyone and to support everyone, and sometimes that duty is at the expense of someone - if everyone else is carrying the consequences of someone who, even for very good reasons, is not pulling their weight and being treated differently, then there has to be a point at which the employer draws the line. The employer here, if they haven't drawn that line yet, is indicating that they are very close to doing so.

    The poster may well say that they can't afford to lose their job. Who can? But if keeping their job is based on that job being done when and if they can, on their terms, and at the expense of their colleagues needs and their employers needs, then they cannot expect that situtation to continue and need to start recognising that their job is in serious jeopardy.

    I do realise that it seems to be an odd concept with some people around here, but employee rights come with responsibilties as well. It is not a one way street. And it is not even slightly odd that employers consider that their need to get the job done - the job that pays for everyones wages - trumps your personal life.
    Last edited by Blatchford; 22-10-2019 at 12:36 PM.
    • Blatchford
    • By Blatchford 22nd Oct 19, 1:10 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 474 Thanks
    Blatchford
    .

    It is getting to the point where posters are literally discarding my advice without challenging the substance simply because of either my username or the fact that it isn't the right flavour of vanilla...
    Originally posted by Les79
    Sorry no, but that isn't it. It is because your advice is regularly wrong, and consists of "it's definitely discrimination of some sort/ you should sue them/ the law is definitely on your side / but I might be wrong so don't take my advice". Nobody has the time to trawl through the tomes of wrong advice you give, so it's usually quicker to just ignore you. Not responding does not imply agreement. And it's definitely not personal. Such bad advice from anyone would be worth ignoring.
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 22nd Oct 19, 2:05 PM
    • 4,403 Posts
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    Undervalued
    EDITED TO ADD: It would seem there is more of a back story as to why the employer might not be willing to be flexible. The OP never updated their other thread either.

    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=6003877
    Originally posted by nicechap
    Well spotted.

    OK, based on what we have been told in the two different posts (five months apart) the OP clearly has a lot of problems and, it appears, a fairly unsympathetic employer.

    However, just being unsympathetic is not the same as being unlawful. The employer may have crossed the line. Or they may not. Many "good" employers actually do far more than the law requires to help employees with sickness and / or family issues. However, just because many do that doesn't necessarily mean those that don't are breaking the law.

    As I said earlier if the OP wants to fight this then they need to get proper professional advice. If that advice is favourable then they need to consider whether, give their poor health and the need to look after two disabled children, it is a battle they feel able to take on.
    Last edited by Undervalued; 22-10-2019 at 2:08 PM.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 22nd Oct 19, 2:10 PM
    • 37,596 Posts
    • 23,232 Thanks
    getmore4less
    Your rights are to short periods of unpaid leave to deal with unexpected emergencies with dependants.
    With a chronic on going illness many of the emergencies will not be unexpected just unknown timing.

    Who is looking after the kids when at work?
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 22nd Oct 19, 2:40 PM
    • 4,403 Posts
    • 3,825 Thanks
    Undervalued
    With a chronic on going illness many of the emergencies will not be unexpected just unknown timing.

    Who is looking after the kids when at work?
    Originally posted by getmore4less
    Indeed.

    However given that the OP never responded to any questions on their previous post back in May I wonder if this is going anywhere?

    We are not told if both parents are involved in the childrens' care but if they are then both employers are entitled to expect that any legal rights are shared roughly equally.
    • Blatchford
    • By Blatchford 22nd Oct 19, 5:59 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 474 Thanks
    Blatchford
    OK, based on what we have been told in the two different posts (five months apart) the OP clearly has a lot of problems and, it appears, a fairly unsympathetic employer.
    Or, to be fair, based on the fact that we have only one side of the story here, a sympathetic employer who has reached the end of their tether. It seems, even by the posters version of events, that they have allowed a great deal of leeway in the past, allowing the poster to take time off during the working day and work that back. They did not have to. Not wishing to appear "employer-centric" but I wonder what the employers version of this story might be. Because I suspect it might be along the lines of an employee who had had a lot of time off sick, time off for children's sickness, everyone else working around their needs, now wants to reduce the working week (but will still be expecting that working week to fit around their personal commitments not work? Because how can they say that they will be available for the 28 hours they now want to work on a regular basis), a very unhappy bunch of colleagues who are fed up of this one person having a lot of leeway...

    That's not to say that anyone in this scenario is "wrong", and nor does it say that we can't have sympathy. But sometimes sympathy and reality can't share the same space. Pretending it can is unrealistic.
    • Blatchford
    • By Blatchford 22nd Oct 19, 7:33 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 474 Thanks
    Blatchford
    I'm starting to sound like a broken record at this point so I'll make it quick..

    Think you make some interesting/valid points. Ultimately, employee and employer have their own process to follow here (which I suspect employer may have made a hash of in the past particularly with FWR/capability/disciplinary issues). Absolutely no evidence of this. Capability and disciplinary haven't even been mentioned OP is probably more interested in the "employee" process... If they have any sense, they are more interested in what will actually result in them not ending up in a worse position than they are already in. Following this advice will almost certainly result in them losing their job. Of which waiting for outcome of FWR and then seeking further advice may be the way to go imo (ACAS or back here).

    OP if you read this then all the best!
    Originally posted by Les79
    You really do seem to be under the impression that anything you don't like to hear, or posters don't like to hear, is "employer-centric ". It's quite sad really that people following your advice are almost doomed to make things worse if not lose their job. This week alone you have suggested some outlandish positions based on not a shred of evidence from the poster, then claimed you tried to discourage them from taking the advice you just gave them! I am forced to wonder if you really believe in your own advice, or whether you get some kind of perverse enjoyment from making up things not in evidence and then thinking the poster is going to do as you suggest.

    Poster, if you doubt the advice you've been given by multiple people here, then do not go to ACAS. Their telephone advisers are rubbish. As anyone who knows anything will agree. Before you risk your job over this, see a lawyer.
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