Thursday, July 12, 2007

Childfree Workplace Issues in South Africa

War in the workplace
“I find it ironic that while I’m often labelled as selfish for choosing to focus on my marriage, interests and career and not to have kids at this time, some of those people could be seen to be just as selfish when it comes to sharing equitably in the responsibilities of a team at work.”
. . .
The South African legal system is slightly less pro-family [than that of the US and UK]. While it does stipulate that an employee is entitled to four months maternity leave, it does not make provision for the payment of employee benefits. Every employee is entitled to three days ‘family responsibility leave’, which you can take if your child is born (father) or sick or if a relative or life-partner dies.

However, the childfree complain that even these laws place them at a disadvantage. Employers may not adequately fill the role of the employee whilst they are on maternity leave, thrusting more work and responsibility on those not on leave. Furthermore, some childfree individuals argue that they have other responsibilities or dependants, which they are not given time off to care for.

“Childfree people also have responsibilities such as elderly parents, troubled friends and sick animals, that mean as much to us in our lives as children mean to their parents, but I’m highly unlikely to get time off to care for them,” says Mary.
. . .
The solution? It seems that our value system needs to change. Not to favour either parents or non-parents, but to cultivate a culture that is more conducive to life outside of work.
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