Getting new job but have kid issues
May 27, 2006 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I have recently been offered a position with a new company. I have kid issues... read on...

My issue is that my partner has a child that has to be dropped off every 15 days, three hours away for visitation with the child's father. From time to time I alone do the dropping off if my partner is working late. It was not a problem with my previous job as I would come in early on that Friday, not take a lunch and leave an hour early. No one was checking up on me as the supervisor was very lax. I plan to do the same thing at this new job but would like to let the HR person know. I don't want this new company to see the child as a hindrance. I am very much involved in every aspect of the child's life with my partner. How do I tell the HR guy about this situation? I do not want to disclose that I am gay (I don't think it's anyone's business) and I'm afraid if I say he is not really my child then they will think I should not be able to get out an hour early on Fridays every 15 days to drop him off. What is the best way to handle this?
posted by workinprogress to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I think you want to downplay the issue as much as possible. It's not a huge obligation -- if I'm reading it correctly every two weeks you might have to leave early on Friday, but you're willing to make it up by coming in earlier. (You only need to leave early if your partner is working late, right?) If you pitch it as a minor inconvenience, which it is, I don't imagine they'll have a problem.
posted by danb at 7:20 AM on May 27, 2006

I also don't think it should be a big deal, and I think you could easily just refer to the child as your own, but if that doesn't fly with the new company:

Could you switch the dropoff day to a Saturday or have the father pick the child up instead?
posted by visual mechanic at 7:33 AM on May 27, 2006

Most companies cut people a lot of slack for kid-related things. Pretty much every parent has had to leave early for an emergency or taken off time for parent-teacher conferences or whatever. The fact that you're not actually the parent shouldn't make this a big deal, really. Just tell them that sometimes (every couple months, I'd imagine?) you may need to leave a bit early to take the kid to his father's and you'll make it up.

Actually you might want to ask them if you can do, say, four 9-hour shifts and one 4-hour each week... or even four tens... that way you can always have a few hours off one day a week, or even an entire day, and it won't be anyone's problem.
posted by kindall at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2006

I am very much involved in every aspect of the child's life with my partner.

If you act as a co-parent with your partner, I think it's entirely fair to refer to the kid as "my child."
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:13 AM on May 27, 2006

You just might try asking about their policy on flex-time in general--not specific to a particular responsibility. Finding out if you can come in early and leave a bit early every once in a while is probably all you need to know.

And good luck with the new job!
posted by sexymofo at 8:17 AM on May 27, 2006

Could you switch the dropoff day to a Saturday or have the father pick the child up instead?

It's best not to disturb the established order on such things. Tension between the parents of the child will be noticed by the child.

Ask up front before you take the job. Make it clear that you will work a full day, just that you may need to time shift a little bit to get the child off the the father. You will need flexibility about the kid with your employer. There will likely be more child issues in the future, such as sick days etc, and if they are not flexible on this they may not be flexible elsewhere. If they balk on this I would look elsewhere.
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2006

Simply tell them you have a standing appointment late in the afternoon every other friday, and you'd like to do everything possible to plan ahead to be sure your team meets its requirements. No need to explain. Lots of folks have personal things they need to do (leaving before sundown as part of their faith, attending therapy, volunteering) so perhaps it's not an unusual request. Also, it may be easier because it's a friday -- everyone at my work ducks out early on friday, so by 4 pm, all I hear is crickets...
posted by mochapickle at 9:50 AM on May 27, 2006

It is for the kid's parents to work out a reasonable arrangement within what is possible, there is no need for this to affect your job. If HR won't play along, get the parents to work out a solution, don't compromise your future.

It is not clear what difference the hour makes. If it is that you want to dodge the traffic, then say that to HR -- that you have to go over to Xxxx regularly, and it would help a lot to leave before the rush. If they did ask you why "It's a family thing" is all they need to know.
posted by Idcoytco at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2006

I wouldn't bring it up to HR at all, unless you are looking to make your leaving early periodically an official part of your employment terms. I would just make another informal arrangement with your immediate supervisor, like you did at your last job. In my experience, it's best to keep HR out of the loop as much as possible.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:43 AM on May 27, 2006

If you're doing this (say) eight times a year, and it involves leaving an hour early, then (worst case) you could just take an hour of vacation time, yes? (During a standard probationary period, probably not - but that's usually over in 90 or 180 days.) Any reasonable supervisor wouldn't have a problem with flex time, but sometimes organizations can be ultra-rigid; taking vacation time may be irritating but the best way not to make this an issue.
posted by WestCoaster at 12:36 PM on May 27, 2006

Agree that this isn't an HR matter, this is something you work out with your supervisor. If you want, you can call the child your step-child if you feel the need for clarification. But you could also be more vague about "family obligations," after all, this could be an older parent that needs help getting to a doctor or a thousand other scenarios of non-negotiable responsibility.
posted by desuetude at 1:54 PM on May 28, 2006

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