Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Parents at Work

A common complaint in the childfree community is that parents get more flexibility and more time off in the workplace than those without children, while us childfrees are left to cover for them. "Oh, Mary can't stay late -- she has kids," is something many of us have heard before.

I am in total agreement that this is B.S. I resent the implication that as a childfree person, my family obligations and personal time are somehow considered less important than those of someone who has kids. While we all do need a little flexibility at times for personal reasons, we should all get the same amount, no matter what those reasons are. And no one without children should be expected to work late, or on holidays or weekends, any more often than those with kids.

Of course, this assumes we're all getting paid the same. There are attorneys at my firm who are on the so-called "mommy track," and have worked out arrangements where they get paid less money and only have to work, say, 9-5 three days a week. This is fine with me, as long as I'm not being asked to cover for them. Their time and money tradeoff is their own business. What I have an issue with is when parents technically have the same job and salary as I do, and yet get more leniency when it comes to arriving late, leaving early and taking off extra days.

Today I heard the most ridiculous argument ever in favor of this from someone on a forum I post on:

"Before I had kids, I used to complain about parents getting perks that I wasn't entitled to- more leniency coming in early, not staying late- etc. I never actually had to pick up their workload- but I still resented it. One day I was not exactly tactful when I voiced my displeasure- and I was put in my place by a co-worker that did have kids. She told me the truth, through tears of frustration. She wanted to know who I thought would be paying into all the systems that would allow me to live comfortably in our elder years- the children of today drive the economy of tomorrow. Who would make all the things we would need? Who would service all those same things? Someone's children. Who would care for us? Someone else's children. Who would carry on after I was gone? Someone else's children. She said- maybe hers. So would I back the hell off- because I certainly wasn't helping the parents who had to work and raise the people who would be taking care of me later on? Made me think- and have a lot more compassion for working parents- and that was before I had kids."

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I take care of my own future by saving and investing and paying my taxes. I don't expect care or handouts from anyone's kids later on. Yes, someone has to give birth to doctors, lawyers, grocers, etc., for our society to continue, but so what? I pay for those services -- and I don't see why I should pay again with my time by covering for the parents at work so they can supposedly go off to raise tomorrow's bright future. Not to mention that of course, today's parents are also raising tomorrow's serial murderers, rapists, thieves, terrorists and school shooters.

What a load of sanctimonious bull.


Mel said...

Amen. I see this all the time where I work too. The thing that really pissed me off back in the spring was when we were under severe weather warnings (tornados, etc). It was so bad that schools were closing so the parents were automatically given the okay to leave for the day and not have to take time off. HOWEVER, nothing was said about the rest of us that did not have children. We were expected to just hunker down and ride out the storm (same storm system where a tornado destroyed a high school in south Alabama on 3/1) or take a day of vacation leave. We were later told we could leave (about 4 hours later), but that wasn't until AFTER the county had gone under a tornado warning and the sirens were going off (when it was especially "safe" to be out on the roads). Then they practically kicked us out of the building at a moment's notice (liability issues, I suppose?) I'm still sore about that one.

Childfree in NYC said...

Mel, how absolutely ridiculous! Like your safety is somehow less important than those of parents and their children? I've heard some awful stories of parent-favoritism at work, but that one really takes the cake!

Lilian said...

That argument is absolutely ridiculous. If you want to raise the next generation's lawyers and doctors, go right ahead, but do it on your own time. Plain and simple.

Just out of curiosity, would you be able to work out a similar deal with working 3 days a week at your firm? What I mean is, if you just wanted to cut back your hours (any pay) and have more time for yourself, would your firm be just as accommodating, or is that also a parents-only thing?

Childfree in NYC said...

I don't know, Lilian. I doubt it would be looked upon very highly, I am a junior associate after all. I suspect they would be accommodating if I had some other special circumstance, though, like an elderly parent who needed care.

Kerry said...

I just get frustrated when new parents come to work so obviously worn out and exhausted that they make absolutely no effort at their jobs, and don't even try to hide the fact. They're putting in the time, but they are't working. Then everyone else has to clean up after them.

My boss is very cool. He's very flexible with everyone as long as we don't take advantage and our work gets done. My dog was recently ill and had to go to the vet twice a week, and my boss let me work through lunches and stay late to make up time so I wouldn't have to use so much vacation time.

And my dog goes to doggie day care twice a week, so twice a week I have to pick him up by six pm. Sound familiar?

Mad Old Rat Spinster said...

I work at a University and during the long summer break from June to September it's absolutely DEAD, with hardly any work to do. I also run my own business and there are days during the summer break where I could be doing so much at home, making my stock to sell....but I have to sit at my desk and literally stare into space. I mean, it's money for nothing which is great, but I hate being bored and it's very frustrating when I could be at home sewing £200 worth of stock to sell.

The University doesn't have a general flexi time policy, which seems ridiculous to me, as there are many hundreds of staff who have little or no work to do during summer. Imagine the £££ savings to the Uni if people started taking flexitime!

You can only apply for flexible working if you have kids or an elderly parent to care for, say the rules here. Which is UNFAIR to childfree people. This place bends over backwards to offer flexibility to new mums, but nobody else has a look-in. One woman in our department went on maternity leave, came back for 3 months (the alloted period of time you have to work before a 2nd pregnancy, or you have to pay back your maternity leave) then she duly got pregnant again and wen ton martentiy leave AGAIN. She is due back here in September but will then take her 22 days holiday entitlement, and come back in October. Then she's on flexitime "to suit her children". We have bets taht she'll work another 3 months then get pregnant again. And the law can do nothing to prevent her milking the system like this.

For nearly 2 years now she's done 3 months work but got a full salary, it should NOT be allowed. Meanwhile, the growth of my business is being stunted because I can't work flexible hours during our "dead months".