Annabel: The school system is remarkably unable to link up with parents and bosses when it comes to Christmas. A few weeks before Christmas we get notes about Christmas plays and concerts (a must do for at least one parent in most households) and to cap it all a lot of schools close at lunchtime on the last day of term meaning someone has to pick the children up mid-day.
Allie: We have constructed The Perfect Christmas Fantasy. But it is a fantasy. It works well as a fantasy, but is really hard to make work in practice! Add in to this mix, if you are a teacher, that you probably have children at different schools plus commitments to your own school, and the whole thing starts to become a logistical nightmare rather than a celebration.
Annabel: While it can be OK in some firms for the non parents to disappear down the pub, it can be a bit tricky to try to organise an early finish for a school run or school play. We are always afraid the boss won’t be happy about it. There is no overall legal right to time down the pub or the school run but bosses can find it hard to deal with everyone wanting to be off to party or do family things.
Allie: Flexible teams are more likely to accommodate this. If you have been the person who never gave an inch throughout the year it may be difficult to get your colleagues to agree.
Annabel: Your request to take time off for the carol concert is one of many things a boss has to juggle. There will be times when you can’t go. Sometimes your partner, parent or someone else will have to be there.
Allie: Ask your child which is the most important event for them and try to focus on going to that one. Follow it with a favourite meal or other celebration. This makes the day stand out and be memorable.
Annabel. If you need annual leave around Christmas to cover school holidays you need to book this up really early. While bosses are sympathetic to the odd babysitting let down, you can’t just leave them hanging every time something goes wrong at your end.
Allie: Consideration is the key. If you want consideration you also need to give it. It’s also a very good model for your child to understand sharing in the grown up world. Balance your attention throughout the year, rather than trying to do everything during the festive season.
Annabel: Many organisations have to roster staff over Christmas. While many colleagues volunteer so that those with young children get Christmas day, there is no general legal right to get the days off you want. There will be people on Christmas day who don’t get to see their kids open their presents. We are all grateful for that when we need their help.
Allie: There are lots of qualities that are good to focus on at Christmas time other than celebration. Commitment, dedication, loyalty and many others you can name.
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060
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