You child’s school district closes unexpectedly for the day. You have an important meeting at work and a report due by the end of the day. You frantically try to line up childcare but are unsuccessful. Do you bring your child to work with you or call out sick?
For working parents, this situation (or something like it) is bound to happen sooner or later. That’s why it’s so important to have an employer who is understanding and supportive of your family obligations.
Unfortunately, many employers do not fall into this category.
However, there’s been a push lately all across the U.S. to increase awareness of the needs of working families and to improve workplace policies.
What is “family-friendly”?
Most people associate “family-friendly” work policies with maternity leave, flex time and on-site daycare. In recent years some companies have begun allowing other flexible work options including telecommuting and job-sharing. But these benefits are usually available only at large corporations. That’s one of the reasons that some advocacy groups have been pushing for government-mandated family-friendly policies for all employers, regardless of size or number of employees.
Why is this a hot issue all of a sudden?
The most obvious reason is that more women are in the workforce. In fact, women are becoming the breadwinners in many families. According to Catalyst, an organization that works with businesses to expand opportunities for women:
- Women make up 47% of the workforce.
- 56.5% of all mothers with children under the age of 1 are in the labor force.
- 70.8% of all mothers with children under age 18 are in the labor force.
It boils down to this: there are a lot of working moms in the U.S. and employers should do everything they can to offer policies to support women with “family-friendly” policies.
Real moms, real problems
Back to the hypothetical situation at the beginning of this post…an unexpected school day cancellation and no childcare. It happens. For women with childcare at work, it’s not a problem, but many companies don’t offer that option. What’s a mom to do?
In most cases, it simply depends on what’s happening at work that day and the limitations of your workplace. Some bosses don’t mind when employees bring kids to work occasionally, or they’ll let you work from home. Other employers aren’t flexible; in that case, a working mom may have no choice but to miss a day of work.
I’m not forgetting about Dads!
This post has been all about working moms, which of course is the main focus of Full Time. But I recognize that family-friendly policies apply to moms and dads. Unfortunately, I believe that working moms generally have a bigger burden than dads when it comes to childcare.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think about family-friendly work policies? Do you agree working women have a bigger burden childcare than men? Tell me what you think!
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