I have a little issue that I was wondering if some of you could weigh in on.  Myself and my other half both have full time jobs.  She works as a cake decorator and I work for the fire department.  We are a combination department and we are severely running short on personnel to fill shifts (volunteers fill shifts when paid staff need a day off).  A couple days ago, both of our young children (ages 4 and 2) got a bit of a cold and the babysitter won't take them.  I have to work tomorrow, and am unable to take the day off because we are understaffed and there's nobody to cover.  She can't call in because she is needed.  Does anybody have any advice as to how I can handle this situation without completely screwing myself?

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@ John Crabbe inbox me @ wetj2@yahoo.com to discuss this further. Thx

You're right, we don't know the rules established for the particular dept involved, but he did open the topic up on an internet forum. Yes, one should be looking at what their depts rules and standards are and shouldn't be opening such questions to the internet and ask for other people to weigh in.


Since he did, and since we have seen some other comments out there regarding leave etc, it helps to understand that such discussions may help some other people out there. When it comes to staffing, and being understaffed, it's possible one can feel an obligation to go to work despite family members, or even the member themselves, sick, and don't want to inconveince the dept. Staffing is the decision of management and it is their responsibility to substitute when a member takes off or needs off. No member should be made to believe they are that integral that they can't have leave if needed.


So when it also comes down to saying that one's spouse should be the one taking off, we also don't know the circumstances surrounding that either. In fact, in many depts, it is easier for a FF to take off all or a half day to tend to family than it can be for spouses.


Sure we don't know the specific details regarding this person's sick time usage, but unless that policy specifically states sick time is for a member only, using sick time for immediate family is a legitimate reason. Furthermore, people should NOT be fearing that using sick time is going to land them in trouble. There is a difference between abuse and legitimate reasons. There is also the reality that no one person is so needed for a dept that they must sacrifice or put family at risk for the job duties. Nobody should have to feel this way by the dept, nor should they believe they are that important that they can not take time off for legitimate reasons.


Frankly, sick leave policies that don't allow parents to take a sick day to tend to sick children are exactly the type of policies that lead to sick leave abuse.  If my son was sick and the policy was I couldn't take a sick day to care for him what is to stop me from calling in sick for myself?

Frankly, this is 2013 and for ANYONE to post something as ignorant and sexist as the wife should take off to stay home because her job isn't as important is unbelievable.  Perhaps if she doesn't go in she gets fired, then what?  Because she isn't a firefighter her job isn't important to her or her family?  Seriously I am shaking my head at the stupidity of that remark.


Reread my post. It was based on the assumption that the FD job is more important to that family than the cake decorating job (which is what I stated in the post). I assumed that the FD job comes with a better overall package of salary and benefits. Are you saying that is not the case? I don't see how you could know that. Sexism has nothing to do with it. Ignorance may have something to do with it because I am ignorant of the specifics of the situation. As are you, which makes you a hypocrite.

If I am correct in my assumption that the FD job comes with a better overall compensation package, then I believe his job is more important (to that family and that family only) than hers. Nothing stupid about it. Your personal attack is out of line.


No John,

I don't see it that way and your response here furthers that opinion.  Covertly you are saying they can afford for her to lose her job to stay home with the kids but he shouldn't be allowed to risk the same consequences because his job is more important.  Maybe she loves her job and in her mind it is every bit as important to her as firefighting is to him.

Staffing is not his problem.  If they don't allow sick days for kids and there is no other child care option he should call in sick for himself.  Again if he were puking with diarhea and he called in they would figure out staffing.  So it isn't that they can't do it, it is that they won't do it.


There is nothing covert in my answer. I stated exactly what I meant. Jeff originally asked what he should do without screwing himself. We don't know exactly what he meant by that. We don't know what his job protections are. We don't know his job history. I answered his question the best that I could based on limited information. I gave what I feel is a realistic answer. I did not climb up on a soapbox and pontificate about what sick time is or what sick time should be. I did not preach about whose responsibility staffing is.I did not pose a bunch of "what if" scenarios.

You feel that he should have called in sick himself, even though he wasn't. But he stated that he "had to work" and was "unable to take the day off". This could easily lead one to believe that he already approached the department about his sick kids and was told he had to work. So subsequently calling in sick could conceivably have negative ramifications. Termination? Suspension? Loss of pay? Transfer? Change in shift or work schedule? Just some possibilities. I'm sure any or all of them could cause a hardship for that family. Calling in sick could very well "completely screw" him, which he wanted to avoid.

We also have limited information about his wife's job. Maybe she is a member of the bakers' local and enjoys a generous wage and benefit package along with union protections. Maybe not. We just don't know. My answer was based on my assumption that the FD job is more important to that family's financial security and future. It had nothing to do with her love of her job vs his love of his job. It had nothing to do with the value of working women vs working men in our society. It had nothing to do with who is more important as a person. I assure you, there is no sexist agenda on my part.

Jeff presented us with a tough situation. It looked like a hard choice had to be made. I told him what my choice would be in that situation and why I would make it.


If in fact he has sick days, and only he can answer this, what do they cover?  Can he take sick days only for him?  If his wife is gravely ill?  For sick kids?  What?  The fact is we don't know the policy.  BUT, if his contract says he can take family sick days the admin can't simply deny him that because they have an issue with staffing.  Further, if he KNOWS there is no family sick leave he should just call in sick for himself and not mention his kids are sick.  Then stay home with them.  He wouldn't be the first guy to do that and certainly will not be the last. 

Frankly, I would be looking for a different firefighter job because that department sounds like it has some serious issues.  And YES, I did do that when I wasn't happy with several things at my first career FD. 


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