First of all, I must say I love MiddleMe very much and amazed that you can come up with so many articles every week. If you feature this email, I will be ecstatic.
I have a problem. My company is hosting a charity gala dinner next month, all employees are mandatory to attend and all our major clients are invited too. All those who are found deliberately absent will be penalised heavily. My issue here is that on that night, it is my youngest son’s recital and I have promised him eons ago that I will not miss it. My 3 children live with my ex-wife and let’s just say we haven’t separate on good terms so it is crucial that I spend whatever time I have or allow with my children as much as possible.
I have spoken this to my coworkers and they are very supportive of me taking this issue to our boss. My hesitation is that I can’t lose this job otherwise I won’t be able to pay child support and my ex-wife will have more reasons not to let me see my children. My boss isn’t very pro-family-type and has a bad reputation of a no-nonsense guy. One of my friends suggested that I should just pretend and call in sick on that day but I’m not sure if that is a good idea.
What will you do if you are me? Please help.
Thank you for writing to me. Although I’m not a father, I do understand and applaud your love for your children and your desires to be as involved in their lives as possible. I agree with you that sometimes it is tough to find a balance in life where you want to work as hard to provide a future for your kids while making sure you are not neglecting them.
To fake an illness in order not to turn up for work is the oldest trick in the book and honestly, myself have been tempted to do it many times. However, I would rather you take a different route in your case. You should talk to your boss but get HR involved in this matter as well. Allow HR to understand your reasons and have their support before going to your boss with your request. You may wish to have a private talk with your boss and hear what is his reasons for rejection. If he is hiding behind the reason ‘because the management said so’ or if he cites the rules, bring in HR.
As much as I want to advise you to talk to your ex-wife, I understand that your family situation, you know best. If need be, you might want to approach your lawyer and see what options you have to be granted more time with your children.
You’ll need to understand that as much as rules and official obligations are meant to bend to suit special circumstances as yours, you need to ensure and assure both your boss and HR that such requests are not frequent.
I wish you good luck in having this difficult conversation!