Sunday 16 December 2018

Childminder fired after refusing to take kids shoe shopping during Storm Ophelia

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A childminder has spoken of her disbelief after she was fired by her employer because she refused to take her young children shoe shopping during Storm Ophelia.

A woman named Jennifer told RTÉ's Liveline that she messaged her employer on Sunday night to ask if the schools were closed the following day.

"She said 'yeah the schools are closed, we'll see you at 9am'.

"I went in for ten to nine in case she was heading out the door at nine and I wanted to talk to her. She asked would I bring the children to the shop to buy them new shoes. It was a usual day for her, she was oblivious as to what was going on in Ireland that day. It was a normal day but the kids were off school. I said I could do it no problem during the week but today I wasn't going anywhere with the weather warnings. That I wouldn't be comfortable with that."

Jennifer said that her employer looked out the window and said "I don't know what they're on about, it's a lovely day".

"I asked her what the plan was and she said she didn't know and that maybe she would be home early. I said 'ok, I was hoping to leave here at around 12'. She completely changed and said that is was unacceptable. She said it wouldn't be possible today and the weather was fine at the moment.

"Portmarnock is where I'm based and I have to drive along the coast. It would make me very nervous. Portmarnock has flooded in the past and there was no leaving or coming. We didn't know if that was going to happen.

"She said it was unacceptable and that I was being hard to deal with. She said if I wanted good things done to me, then I needed to do good things for her."

The childminder said that she was asked to bring the kids to Dunnes Stores to get shoes.

"I was trying to have the conversation about facts of what was due to happen on Monday. It could have passed over and it could have been fine but it also couldn't have. I wanted to make sure that I was safe. She told me that I was just looking for a day off and then told me to get out of the house. I asked could we just had a conversation and she said she wouldn't talk to me in front of her children so I left.

"As a childminder, I consider myself a part of the family. I don't have a HR department to go talk to or anyone above her. It's very awkward, how am I supposed to walk into that house?"

Jennifer said that childminders are "often taken advantage of."

"Some people think that because they're paying me I should do everything they say. I consider that I'm fired."

She added that she won't get any redundancy packages or holiday pay.

"I had two of her car seats and a key to her house so I needed to return them. The next day, I brought them over and she said 'well I'm sure you'll get another job no problem'."

Jennifer's mum Claudia said that her daughter was "very upset" over the incident.

"We're proud of her that she didn't put small children in the car. She's my child. We had the warning, everyone was off the street. Those children were safe at home because Jennifer said no."

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