Carers Leave Entitlement - Kids Summer Holidays

Discussion in 'Redundancy, unemployment & jobseekers entitlements' started by Fireplace, 15 Mar 2019 at 8:23 PM.

  1. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    Would really appreciate peoples insights and opinions into the below scenario.

    There's a person who's put in notice that they are taking the School summer holidays on the grounds of Carers leave. There is no significant illness or change or unforeseen care requirement that the company or colleagues have been made are aware of (employee will not disclose any new information on situation considering it unnecessary) that would require this level of leave / care and its the timing is specific to the School Holidays so not flexible to company requirements. Its been put forward as an entitlement by the employee that is happening on these dates not a request - starting the leave sooner is not required as its specifically for the school holidays.

    No proposal was accompanying the application or suggestions forthcoming on how their responsibilities could be be handled in the absence.

    Here's the problem, citizens information tell us that it takes 10 weeks to assess from when the application is sent in to a decision granted for this leave; and that parenting during school holidays isn't enough of a reason to get it. School Holidays start in about 10 weeks. It will take several weeks to recruit and train up someone to take over this role, which is a significant responsibility and not easily replaced. So it costs the company and Its unlikely to find a replacement for this skill set at a temp agency.

    The company is in general very accommodating to all employee requests but some feel the companies flexibility is being taken advantage of (and this is not a request) as it puts a huge strain on everyone else and rubbed up a lot of people, who see the approach of no information about why its required as being a calculated move.

    Here is the problem when a decision is made in 10 weeks it will be Yes or No.
    1. Yes and the employee may leave the following day after letter arrives (hard to plan for), so company has to hire someone and spend weeks training them up as a backup scenario.
    2. No and the replacement hired will be no longer required. Making it near impossible to hire a competent replacement and a costly waste of management time.

    In a No decision the options would be:
    1. Pay the new replacement a months gardening leave (out of spite?) and force the employee to be there when they don't want to be, in order to save face with the other people.
    2. Or to give the employee a minimum of a month of the demanded leave while the standby replacement works out their notice.
    It's already become a joke in the office that everyone is taking the summer off. Carers leave is a protected status so replacing the person permanently isn't possible and wouldn't be desirable if the company goals and targets were being met without massive disruption. Clearly yearly summer holidays based on the school year isn't workable every year and two people doing a single persons role isn't feasible.

    What do you think?
     
  2. dishwasher

    dishwasher Frequent Poster

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    From reading citizens information you can only refuse if they are asking for less than 13 weeks and it is the Dept of Social protection that checks the validity of the person with the care need. The person applying has to fill in the carers benefit form which is very detailed with the GP also completing it. I’ve just gone through this process myself and don’t see how someone could pretend a care need just to get unpaid time off over the summer.

    While it is a bit strange that they aren’t being open with you, this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t genuine. It just might not be that easy for them to open up to you about their sick relatives and family circumstances. Particularly if they expect you are going be resistant.

    Carers and families patch together all sorts of arrangements to make sure the person is looked after while trying their best to maintain the finances.

    Person cared for could be an elderly relative living in another part of the country and your employee could be relieving their main Carer while their own kids are off school.

    Person cared for could be a child with a disability or medical condition where the caring is managed by a combination of
    school and after school care that is not available during the summer.

    And on the 10 week thing, I’ve just had carers benefit approved and it took 4 months from the date of application due to a backlog.
     
  3. Jim2007

    Jim2007 Frequent Poster

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    What is your’re role in this? Are you the team lead or what?
     
  4. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    Last edited: 15 Mar 2019 at 11:07 PM
    Jim, I am a product manager. Its small company so no HR department.

    Dishwasher. It's not that there's a question if the person isn't genuine in that they want the summer off to care for their children during the school holidays, however citizens information have clearly stated Carers leave is for serious illness or threat to life if the person isn't in room to mind the child, and school leave isn't sufficient for this entitlement under the banner of careers leave. Ofcourse a GP may decide to facilitate the leave if requested, so its not certain if they are going to get the leave and we wont know until the day of getting the reply. So the uncertainty is as much of a problem as the possible absence.

    When asked if the person would be open to leave dates earlier or later to facilitate the project nature of the work they do, it was when the school was closed that the time off was needed so they are not flexible.

    I suppose people might be thinking "so what" someone wants extended time off, but other colleagues now have to (and have offered to) cancel their holiday plans incase the customers would be let down and that projects fall behind if its granted.

    If it was a leave request it would have been given reasonable consideration, maybe a little give & take requested in terms of putting customers first and getting a replacement lined up, then granted. But because its been demanded as an entitlement, no reason supplied, no consideration for the company or effect on the team its causing an issue.

    And should all parents in every career take the summers off under protective leave how can businesses operate?

    Lastly the 4 months you mention is worrying as we might hire the replacement in April (to train up on specific project 8 weeks) and end up double jobbing which means less bonuses for the staff as bonuses are based on projects profitability if any.
     
    Last edited: 15 Mar 2019 at 11:07 PM
  5. dishwasher

    dishwasher Frequent Poster

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    Is there a confusion here between parental leave and carers leave?
     
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  6. Jim2007

    Jim2007 Frequent Poster

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    If I was in your situation:

    - I'd recognise that people have a right to privacy and I would not expect to be told the details, that is something for the DEASP to decide. But I would assume that the person concerned has done their homework and are sure the meet the criteria. So there is little chance of it being rejected.

    - I'd also recognise that for most people it is family first and business a poor second. Do not ask people to choose between business and family, because you will almost always loose.

    To try and bring some certainty to the situation I would suggest to the person concerned that regardless of the DEASP decision, they plan to take the unpaid leave in any case. The decision of the DEASP will not change the fact that this person needs to provide care for their children over the summer so it should not be too difficult a call for them. If they agree and I expect they would, then I would be free to bring in a temp and go ahead with planning etc....

    I might even be will to pay this person a small stipend if necessary in the event of a negative decision from the DEASP, it it gave me the certainty I needed to manage my business.
     
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  7. Clamball

    Clamball Frequent Poster

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    It is a difficult situation but you are letting some parts of it influence you negatively.

    Current facts

    The employee is a valued employee who you want to remain in the company employment into the future. They bring profit to the company.

    The added cost of recruiting, training and helping a replacement will impact on company profitability and hence staff bonus payments.

    The staff member will take the 10 weeks off no matter what, paid or unpaid, even if it impacts customers, critical projects, and their coworker holiday plans.

    Only DEASP will adjuciate on eligibility for carers allowance, and it may take up to 4 months to reach that decision.

    Your company is a flexible staff friendly workplace.


    So your options as production manager are:

    Plan for the persons absence (be thankful you have advance notice, if they had been in an accident you would have zero notice). Consider what critical skills and knowledge this person has and is their an opportunity to cross train another employee as well as getting a temp to cover during absences. Get the employee to document stuff that is critical or only they know. Are they willing to take calls, email etc when on leave.

    Be clear to the staff member on how this will impact profitability and bonuses. (I am assuming they will have 0 bonus to allow other staff at least some bonus?)

    Put the time and effort into training to have a backup for each staff member for critical elements of their work so you can bring in a temp with lower skills to do more generic tasks in the case of an absence. And seriously evaluate how critical each staff member is to your overall profitably and if this staff member is critical.

    If they don’t get carers leave and take the 10 weeks, leaving their colleagues change holiday arrangements, have less of a bonus, and generally negatively impact their work colleagues then is this person someone you want to take back come September? What message does either option have on the morale and working relationship of the other team members? Would just taking unplanned leave be a person waking off the job and you could take it that they have resigned and terminate their employment.

    So whether they are eligible for carers leave or not should not really be pressing your buttons it is all the other stuff you need to focus on.
     
  8. Feemar5

    Feemar5 Frequent Poster

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    I find it unusual that someone considering carers leave would not have discussed it with their employer and while maintaining confidentiality say something about who they are caring for. Do you as an employer have any form to fill for social welfare and how do you know that this is genuine. I don’t think you have many options if You want to retain this person on your staff but I would question their commitment if they are not willing to give you some idea as to why they want the leave - if it is just to mind children perhaps you should be looking at other solutions.
     
  9. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    Thanks for all the insights everyone.

    I should have mentioned that I dont own any shares in the company and the person doesnt report to me. Just the company pays well, I've been their for a long time and from that point feel invested. Carers Leave was just dropped at a daily "hussle meeting" in front of everyone and all the staff were shocked (including their direct manager who had no advance warning), one staff member even queried are you just taking the summer holidays off to spend it with the kids and was told "yes and I'm entitled to carers leave".

    If i'm honest I and some of the other managers lost a bit of respect for the lady who owns the business at the meeting, because she's all talk about culture of respect and honesty, but just remained blank and said she'd look into it as she had never heard of it. This person constantly is taking advantage in my opinion of their good nature and people on my team started talking about taking more leave as a result of it. Maybe she's just covering her ass. I just know this is going to result in a tightening of policies / flexibility for the rest of us.

    But this thread has helped me see that maybe its not that simple, and maybe there is a reason why they can't get a child care or summer camps for her Children during the summer like the rest of us or why they won't share with their employer the reason around making it special circumstance summer holidays. Even an indication that it won't happen again next year would have been fair In my opinion, the person has only recently passed probation in the last few months.

    Because its "protective leave" status, once its declared that the person intends to take the leave they are basically invulnerable to being fired apparently. Kinda like firing someone who announced they were pregnant and going on leave.
     
  10. becky

    becky Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: 18 Mar 2019 at 8:28 PM
    I never heard of carers leave for looking after kids for summer holidays.

    If it was such a thing there wouldn't be enough staff for the HSE to function.

    I'd ask for the letter from social welfare confirming same.

    Sorry just saw there that the employer has to provide information.

    In my humble opinion she's pulling a fast one.
     
    Last edited: 18 Mar 2019 at 8:28 PM
  11. Monbretia

    Monbretia Frequent Poster

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    She must surely be talking about parental leave.
     
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  12. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    Definitely Carers Leave not Parental leave. If it was parental leave the employer / manager can delay by up to six months, so it would be a request for summer leave rather than a demand.

    Seems that even if they were, the system says that they are protected from termination until they get a decision and at that stage the company is already set up for the leave.

    In the mean time the person would have to make alternative arrangements for the care or anticipate company setting dangerous precedent or be prepared to quit I suppose. Then let the company know which, on the first day of the school holidays - if the request takes the above mentioned 4 months or is declined.
     
  13. RETIRED2017

    RETIRED2017 Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: 18 Mar 2019 at 10:43 PM
    Don't rule out it could be one of her/his own children who has special needs someone close to them could be claiming it since the entered the workforce, I have came across it in my time , they had someone else claiming special needs since they could not claim it themselves because/while they were working,
     
    Last edited: 18 Mar 2019 at 10:43 PM
  14. dishwasher

    dishwasher Frequent Poster

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    You can’t really “pull a fast one” to take carers leave to look after a child with a disability or a medical condition. It is protected leave for a reason.

    The medical need is either assessed as part of the carers application or earlier if the child is eligible for domicilary care allowance.

    Very unlikely that in a small workplace this will set much of a precedent. You are on shaky ground legally talking about her “being prepared to quit”.

    Think if the bigger picture and the impact on morale - both her’s and the rest of the team. What kind of view would the rest of the company have if someone wasn’t allowed unpaid time off, when they needed it, to care for a disabled or seriously sick child.

    I’m shocked at your attitude to be honest.
     
  15. PaddyBloggit

    PaddyBloggit Frequent Poster

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    But.. is the employee trying to pull a fast one by looking to coicide leave with school's summer holidays?

    I don't think the OP is adverse to the employee taking the leave except that it be legitimate leave.
     
  16. Jim2007

    Jim2007 Frequent Poster

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    Right so it is noting to do with you. It is up to the owner to deal with this as she wishes.
     
  17. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

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    1.The comprehensive application for Carers Leave is correctly set out to avoid persons claiming benefit that should not.

    2. Both myself and my wife have applied for and taken carers benefit on school holiday breaks to care for a severely disabled child who had a special needs assistant during school holidays. We personally would not entertain personal questions from anyone regarding family members condition.

    3. If an employee qualifies for carers leave they are entitled to the benefit. It does not matter what you think or why you think they are pulling a fast one.

    4. If you suspect that they are abusing the system make contact with the Social Welfare office in Longford. Put in writing your concerns and let them deal with it.
     
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  18. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    The children are not currently (and hopefully come the summer will not be) seriously sick or disabled though. Not in terms of the definition for careers leave "so disabled that they need continuous supervision". They attend school in the same local school / classes as other members of staff, same sports teams etc.

    If it was a situation of someone who's child currently has a full time disability care or suddenly had a change of circumstances and therefore needed a new level of care, I think everyone can agree this is what careers leave is for. And I personally and the company would bend over backwards to help out. What I don't get is that there isn't any material change in situation that means they would be eligible, nor have they stated they would be.

    They are just applying for it and should they not get granted it, a replacement plan and person will already be in place - making it less expensive for the company to give the leave anyway.

    I and my colleagues cancelled our summer holidays we had booked, to cover part of their work and as a result need to take our annual leave during school term etc. So for me it does effect my income and personal life.

    And is it up to the owners wishes? There seems to be only one course of action from reading above.

    Hire a replacement, see if the carers leave is processed in a fast track manner to meet the school holidays and then see what happens from there. Then let the replacement go at either the beginning of the school holidays, the end of the school holidays or keep them on full time. And ofcourse be upfront with the replacement that their future is uncertain and hope they can find someone available for both a full time career and temping, but doesn't have a preference.
     
  19. Peanuts20

    Peanuts20 Registered User

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    The individual in question is not going to get carers leave to mind her kids during the summer holidays, based on what you have said so far. My experience of working through it is that in addition to GP sign off, the local Health Nurse will also visit and assess the situation. Carers leave is a social welfare payment.

    Secondly, she cannot simply leave the day before. She and you are required to sign a document confirming the arrangement at least 2 weeks before CL starts.

    Thirdly, carers leave can be cancelled for a number of reasons( Death being the obvious one). Note the following from CIB

    • Where an employer is of the opinion that the employee, or the
      person receiving the care, no longer meets the conditions for carer’s
      leave. In such a situation, the employer may refer the matter to the
      Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for a decision
     
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  20. Fireplace

    Fireplace New Member

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    Thanks Peanuts, And everyone else for all your insights.

    Can that document be signed before the leave is granted? The processed to apply is apparently 10 weeks minimum (others here say its up to 4 months) to be granted then 2 More weeks for notice? Yet the person needs to be on leave in less than 10 weeks for the school Holidays.