Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Advice" Columnist to Slighted Childless Employee: Get Over It

Pillow talk

. . . I'm fed up with picking up the pieces for my female colleagues. They leave work for months on end to have babies and then, when they do come back with their shrunken, baby-addled brains and la-di-dah attitude, they might as well not have bothered.

I've lost count of the number of times female colleagues have left the office - in the midst of a major crisis or deadline - at five, with the excuse that little Freddie has to be picked up from nursery. . . .

And the biggest irony of all? I'm a newly qualified employment lawyer. - Charlotte S, Exeter

Dear Charlotte

As I read your letter - and this is probably wrong of me - I was expecting to find that it was written by a man. I presumed that, as a woman, you might understand that when children enter someone's life their priorities change. . . .

As yes. Woman = walking uterus = doormat. How enlightened.
For a lawyer you seem to have missed out on a very simple fact in this case - it isn't about you. People aren't trying to be mean to you. They don't care about you. Their main focus is now outside work.

How is that even relevant? I think the fact that these employees are acting selfishly - not considering her - was the very point of the original letter.
You have a couple of options. Move to a company with a younger, older or gayer workforce where this will be less of an issue, or have a baby. Failing that, take up smoking: then you can take lots of breaks while those health-conscious parents are chained to their desks.

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Unknown said...

So, basically the response is you're shit out of luck, either leave or accept it, because the other workers are more important that you.

So much for equality in the workplace.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I work in HR, and legally, there isn't much of a case. Here are the options as I see them:

1. Treat this as a career-building opportunity. I've gotten my biggest breaks by covering for preggos and then insisting on a promotion and better pay (or leaving for a better position) because I've proven I can do the work.

2. Look for win/win situations with regard to personal needs. For example, I'm training for a marathon and I need to be out of the office by 4:00 in order to run before it gets too dark out. If my staff all have late afternoon must-dos (usually because of their kids), I make a trade-off. "Okay, I'll go run at mid-day and then come back and stay late so you can leave early."

My place of employment shuts down for major holidays, but if we were open and needed to cover shifts, I'd agree to work holidays but make a deal up front that I get extra paid time off around my birthday or for some event that was special to me.

3. If the workplace offers no flexibility or sensitivity to people without children, find another job. Resenting your co-workers or going on a workplace crusade (unless you have reason to believe you're not alone) is ill-advised and a horrible career move.

I was annoyed that the advice columnist assumed the writer was male and wasn't more sympathetic, but there truly isn't much one can do about the childed and their endless schlepping of kids to and from doctors and recitals. It's the way the world works and one has to either deal with it, find a way to make it work in their favor, or play Don Quixote with all the pitfalls that would entail.

Yeah, it sucks.

Feh23 said...

Well, employers could expect their employees to do the jobs they were hired to do and work the hours the business is open, childed or not.

I mean, really. Both my parents worked from the time I could remember, and some how I managed to grow up without becoming a serial killer, as well as most of my friends.

It's about making choices. If you choose to give in to your child's every whim, sign them up for every class and activity under the sun, and haven't bothered to take the time to teach them to be responsible, and self sufficient, then of course, you are going to have to take time away from work to care for them. On the other hand, if you choose to let your kid have a couple of extra activities, and ensure those activities won't have an adverse impact on your work schedule (which should be pretty important, since you're paying for everything), then you're probably a decent parent who can manage to have a child without impacting your childfree coworkers too much.

It's the breeders being the selfish asshats here, not the child free.