This week’s blog has come out of a discussion on a Facebook Group I was reading the other evening. The poster was concerned that staff were telling her that they would not be attending the inset day unless they could bring their children with them.
It got me thinking about what others would do in this situation.
Where nurseries and Pre-schools are operated from school environments it is not uncommon for staff to be expected to attend the inset day that the school staff have during the year. These will often be written into the contracts of employment of the staff involved. Those inset days are pre-booked with the staff and parents, and often happen at the beginning or end of school holidays. Is it reasonable for the staff to be expected to attend? Yes, so long as it is written into the terms and conditions. That way if it is going to be a problem for the employee you would expect them to raise it at the beginning of the relationship rather than the night before an inset day!
There are other occasions where an employee may ask whether they can bring their children into the workplace. These include:
- To introduce a new baby to colleagues
- Staff Meetings in the evening
- Training Days at weekend
- Parents evenings after work
- Fete’s and Open Days
- Emergencies that mean the building needs to be opened up by the staff.
- Deep cleans and maintenance events
The general rule of thumb I operate to is if the staff will be paid to be in the workplace; then their children wouldn’t be there. Many settings expect staff to attend staff meetings after work; some also determine in the terms and conditions that the staff are not paid for these meetings. That’s their choice. For others they pay time off in lieu or choose to incentivise attendance through different means. What they can’t do if staff aren’t receiving pay or TOIL is address their non attendance.
I would totally understand an employer being concerned about a child being brought into the workplace if the employee is being paid. We have had an issue in the past where a 3 year old little girl was brought in by the Father and the child went down with chicken pox the following day. She had been speaking to a woman who was in the early stages of pregnancy! That woman then went of sick with stress thinking she was about to contract chicken pox.
In addition other employees will take an issue with children being in the workplace. It may also not be fair on the children. What about Health and Safety? Would this invalidate your insurance? How would the customer react, would it be seen as unprofessional or would it be totally in keeping with your brand. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong answer to this. The children may love it and the experience may be very rewarding, you just never know!
So to conclude; you are being reasonable as an employer if you advise staff that you are sorry they cannot bring their children to work and be paid. As someone being paid to be at work you are reasonable to expect them to source childcare, even if that means they have to pay for it.
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