General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Why do people with children seem to get a free pass when it comes to missing work?

Asked by tinyfaery (36172 points ) August 26th, 2009 from iPhone

One employee out for 3 days because her 17 year old son is ill. Another coworker left early today because her son is sick.
When I once left early because of car trouble, my boss was short with me. When I was out sick for 3 days I had to bring in a work note.

This has happened at pretty much every job I have ever had. It is blatantly unfair. I understand that people have familial responsibilities, but have I have no free pass. My cats or wife don’t let me get a get out of work free card, but I love them and at times need to care for them.

Am I overreacting? Is it fair for parents to have this leeway? Opinions?

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156 Answers

PerryDolia's avatar

Because family comes first over work.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s not fair, but bosses do it anyway.

I don’t have a problem with parents being allowed to use sick time to take care of sick children, and I think if someone who is sick for three days is required to bring in a doctor’s note—a policy I find reasonable—then someone who has a sick child for three days should be required to bring in a doctor’s note.

(I take fewer than three sick days per year, on average. It drops to one per year if you exclude the time I was actually hospitalized.)

Facade's avatar

No, I don’t think that’s fair. Obligations are obligations, whether they be a sick child or car trouble.

cwilbur's avatar

@PerryDolla: Except that equal work should result in equal pay, and if the mother-employee winds up taking 10 more sick days a year because she has a sickly kid than the non-mother-employee, that’s blatantly unfair.

Lightlyseared's avatar

In the UK it is the law. Parents have the right to take time off work to care for their children.

Jeruba's avatar

My guess would be that there is a side to the story that you don’t see. The person may be putting in evening or weekend time, using PTO, or otherwise compensating for the lost time. I would definitely not assume that they are getting free rides. As a parent myself I was always hypersensitive about allowing my children to appear to be a professional liability, but my private arrangements with my boss were no one else’s business.

tinyfaery's avatar

If you get special treatment it is my concern.

dpworkin's avatar

“Seem” is the operative word.

tinyfaery's avatar

I said seem on purpose, but I happen to know, because I work with the manager, that a parent in my workplace does not have to have a note for being out with her sick kid.

dpworkin's avatar

Do you want her to have to present a “note“when her child is ill? How would that make your day better or more productive? Chiilax. It’s none of your fuckin’ business, truth be told.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think it’s fair, but I do think it is a reasonable policy for a country that values family over most other things. One could argue that reproduction of the species is a far more important thing that just making stuff or providing services to people you are unrelated to.

Try adopting a child, and see how you feel about it then. Life circumstances, it seems to me, are a reasonably thing to take into account when asking people to work.

I do think you should be given leave to care for your wife without question. Not sure about the cat. I think that not being allowed to care for your wife with no questions asked is probably a legacy of homophobia, and the inability, in most states, for homosexual couples to marry.

tinyfaery's avatar

It is my business. If a person gets special job privileges because of kids then that’s unfair. Just because I’m sick for 3 days doesn’t mean I have to go to the doctor. I had to pay to get a note for a flu that a doctor cannot help. I wasted my money and my time.

I’ll decide what is my business, tyvm.

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe it would be best for the manager to send out an announcement that says, “Everybody, just wanted you to know that Margaret was docked two days’ pay when little Timmy was sick, just so you don’t think we might have been overly accommodating to someone.”

cwilbur's avatar

@pdworkin: if an employee is required to have a doctor’s note after being out sick for three days, why should an employee who is caring for a sick family member for three days get a free pass?

I mean, hell, why not claim that your kid is sick so that you can get three more vacation days?

@Jeruba: it’s probably sufficient to say that the policy is that you get some number of sick days off, then further sick days come out of your vacation allotment, then further sick days are time off without pay.

@daloon: “Life circumstances” are why we have vacation time, personal days, sick days, maternity leave, and the like. It’s just not reasonable to pay two people the same salary, and then expect one to work more because he or she is childless.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

They may have had to bring in an excuse for their children also… your boss probably didn’t tell you because it’s none of your business!

“I’ll decide what is my business”.... yeah, keep telling yourself that you call all the shots. Some things (like this) aren’t a matter of opinion. Your boss has discretion to ask one thing of you and something different of a co-worker. He may trust her more, etc.

dpworkin's avatar

@cwilbur I don’t know what this employee must or must not do. I only have what @tinyfaery says to go by, and @tinyfaery seems to be carrying some sort of chip, or has a raw nerve or something about life being unfair. Tant pis.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I hate that excuse, kids or no, if your personal life keeps you from doing what your job pays you for, you should be fired.

kevbo's avatar

As my single, playwriting friend once said in tempered but incredulous reference to her many wedding and baby shower obligations—“Gimme fifty bucks, I’m gay.”

Maybe take refuge in the fact that you don’t own any “net worth reducers.”

casheroo's avatar

I don’t know how it works at your job, but I unless they have great benefits..I doubt they are being paid to take family leave. My mother’s company has limited family leave, and there is PTO, and sick days. She also can take disability leave, which she did recently and was paid for six weeks off. But, her company also pays you more and gives you a lot of time off when you adopt. And they recognize gay spouses as the husband or wife.

Anywho, I don’t see why people get so bitter about this. A family emergency is a family emergency. Parents don’t like the fact that they have to call out of work because their child is sick, because then when it comes time to go down the list of “who should we let go” the people who need the most time off are on the top….it’s nerve wracking. So it does hurt them more than it hurts you.
It is silly your boss gets short with you when you need time off for an emergency. That just means you have a shitty boss though.

eponymoushipster's avatar

stupid families, producing offspring and having to care for them.
if only everyone had a turkey baster and a nanny. damn people. they’re the worst.~

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Extenuating circumstances of course apply.

-You get sick time.
-You get vacation time

That said, if you blow through all of those and still miss work due to your kids then you need to re-evaluate how you’re doing things because it creates inequities if you miss work and someone has to pick up your slack.

My boss who shows up 3 days a week if we’re lucky, went home once citing that he put on too much cologne and needed to shower.
He was gone the rest of the day. He said it was ok because he has a kid.

So when people use their kids as a reason to skip work and play x-box all day, that should be immediate grounds for termination.

dpworkin's avatar

How very compassionate, heretic.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Dont mock me. I have little patience when people try to game the system while others are working hard.

dpworkin's avatar

You and I draw differing conclusions about what parents with sick children are doing when they chose caring for their kids over work.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@pdworkin You’re assuming things. Plenty of people manage to work and take care of their kids. I work with a woman who has two kids, goes to school and still manages to show up on time every day.

casheroo's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I tried conveying this in my post. Parents do NOT like having to take off of work. It does reflect badly on them, usually when any worker has to take off work for any extended time…unless it’s a funeral. But, having a family means family obligations as well.

dpworkin's avatar

I agree. We are both making differing assumptions.

CMaz's avatar

God, Family, job.

And, because that is why you have kids. So you can use them for excuses.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@casheroo For the parents where it is a legitimate necessity then yes of course they should get the time off. That’s why they get sick days and personal days and vacation days. I’m in no way saying “F the kids and work”.

eponymoushipster's avatar

…because people with kids don’t get sick themselves, nor do they need a vacation.~

ragingloli's avatar

children are the future.

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s nice to know that people with children think they deserve special privileges. I’ll get me some too, that way I can I can miss work and not get any grief.

And may I say again, I know because I work for the manager and do work on employee time sheets and benefits. I KNOW 100% this person is getting a pass. I KNOW, I’m not assuming.

I don’t have a chip, I have little tolerance for people getting advantages over others due to life choices.

CMaz's avatar

“getting advantages over others due to life choices”

That is what life is about.

saraaaaaa's avatar

@ChazMaz, i never thought about it like that before, but you are indeed right!

cwilbur's avatar

@eponymoushipster: People with kids do get sick, and need vacation. But because they don’t need to burn their sick days and vacation days taking care of sick kids, they get to actually take their vacation in a lump and go somewhere interesting.

It’s one thing entirely if the person who made the choice had to deal with the ramifications of that choice. But if I have to pick up the slack because of someone else’s choices, I get ticked off very quickly.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cwilbur well, i’d venture to say a lot of people didn’t exactly “choose” to have their little bundle of joy, but now they have to deal with it.

Perhaps everyone who doesn’t like having to deal with coworkers who are parents should find a company that doesn’t hire parents, or people with sick relatives, or people who are sickly, or anyone who focuses on someone other than themselves and their own personal wants. I bet that’d be a great company to work for.

ubersiren's avatar

You can take a cab to work when your car isn’t working, but a sick kid who is home from school and isn’t old enough to take care of himself when he’s barfing his guts out has no substitute. Though, your example about the 17 year old seems a little excessive to me. That kid is old enough to be home alone while he’s sick.

Also, when you become a parent, you know, to continue the human race, that is a job, too. The parenting job is always more important than the paying job. It is NOT special treatment. It’s obligation elsewhere- to another human life. It’s not like the person is going to the movies and out for ice cream.

I’ve worked with people who are responsible for their elderly relatives who were able to leave to take care of them in emergencies. Is that special treatment, too? When my husband stayed home from work to take care of me when I was in pain from a c-section, was that special treatment? Or is it just parents taking care of their kids?

Maybe people in your workplace are taking advantage, but not all people are like this. When my husband stayed at home for that c-section I mentioned, he worked from home. He was on the couch with his laptop for 10 hours a day, only breaking to make me food and help me into the shower, get dressed, etc.

I haven’t had to be the parent who needs to leave for her kid, yet, but I can guess that it’s not really a picnic. Running the risk of getting sick myself, losing money from taking the day off, taking the kid to the doctor (and paying for it), the guilt of leaving co-workers high and dry…

Judi's avatar

@tinyfairy, do you sense a prejudice going on beyond just the fact that you don’t have kids?

J0E's avatar

Because you are only responsible for one person, whereas they are responsible for several.

YARNLADY's avatar

I can’t understand the basic premise that the workplace should or even could be “fair”. When I was working outside the home, the better jobs went to the ones with the best looks, salaries were based on how friendly you were, not on how good your work was, older people were fired in order to hire younger attractive people.

srtlhill's avatar

You make your own conditions. My example would be how smokers would be allowed To go outside and have a smoke and then come back and go to work. I started having my own smokeless smoke breaks, yea then they cancelled that interruption. If you need time off take it, no matter what the policy is then when everybody is doing it someone might notice. Don’t feel cheated take part in it. The only excuse you need to the boss is I’ll maybe see you later I’ve got an emergency to attend to. That’s right lifes not fair, take care of yourself and if you gotta leave work just do it.

cwilbur's avatar

@ubersiren: The problem is not that people need time off from work to take care of parents and children. The problem is that people who need that time off get it without question, while those of us who are childless are expected to work longer hours for the same pay and get flak if we miss work for things like car trouble.

@eponymoushipster: I don’t really care whether or not I work with parents; I do care that I’m expected to do more work because I’m childless. I’ve stood up more than once and said, “Um, NO” to bosses who said, in essence, “Well, you don’t have a wife or kids—you can work late all this week, right?”

Parents can take time off when they’re sick, sure. That’s why all employees get sick time, personal days, and vacation time. If they chose to be parents, or were careless enough to become parents by accident, them’s the breaks.

@YARNLADY: The workplace should be fair. The fact that it isn’t is not something to be quietly accepted, but something to be fixed, as quickly as possible.

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

Being a kid recently I love to have my mother or father by my side when I’m really sick. If they weren’t able to help me get better, well, I just wouldn’t get better! But if the “my child’s sick” line is used alot, and the child is 17, 18 or 19 I think that’s just using it. A parent is always going to be a parent, even at work so they need to tend to them. Put yourself in the parents shoes; would you want to be working if you knew you child was sick at home? Wouldn’t you want to help them? And I bet if your wife fell ill, or if your father had a heartattack, your boss would give you the time off

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cwilbur wow. “careless enough to become parents by accident.” I take this to mean your appearance on the Earth was a planned event, and no doubt a chorus of angels heralded your arrival? Get a heart, dude.

If you don’t like your company policy, find a new company. stop whining about people who chose to do more than live for themselves.

cwilbur's avatar

@eponymoushipster: Once again, I don’t really care whether they choose to have kids; I do care when their choice to have kids means they get free time off with pay just by mumbling something about their kids being sick, while I get flak and have to spend a vacation day if I have car trouble.

The company policy should be enforced identically regardless of marital status or family configuration. You get sick days, personal days, and vacation days. If you have to use them up to deal with your family responsibilities, well, that’s what they’re for. If I have to spend a personal day because my car broke down, you should have to spend a sick day because you stayed home with your sick kid. If I have to produce a doctor’s note because I have to spend three sick days at home, you should have to produce a doctor’s note because you had to spend three sick days at home with your kid.

I’m not demanding special treatment here; I’m demanding equal treatment.

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur
that attitude is the reason why less and less couples decide to have children and “idiocracy” is one of our possible futures

cwilbur's avatar

@ragingloli: if they’re not willing to deal with the ramifications of having kids, if they’re not prepared to raise kids without foisting off their work responsibilities on their childless coworkers, then they shouldn’t have them.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cwilbur well that just shows a complete lack of understanding for how things actually operate, not to mention a total lack of class. i’m truly sorry you’re so bitter about life.

YARNLADY's avatar

True equality in the workplace will happen just about the same time there is an end to world hunger.

cwilbur's avatar

@eponymoushipster: Oh, no, I understand very well how things work, which is why I’m so pissed off about this. And the people with no class are the parents who take every advantage of the system, not the people who wind up doing extra work to cover for the slackers.

@YARNLADY: so we should give up on attempting to feed everyone, and just let them all die?

eponymoushipster's avatar

<waits patiently for @cwilbur to have children, and watch the song change>

cwilbur's avatar

You’ll be waiting an incredibly long time, @eponymoushipster. It is vanishingly unlikely that I’ll do anything that will result in children even by accident, and I already have enough class and personal responsibility not to foist my work off on my coworkers.

YARNLADY's avatar

@cwilbur What – like we do now, you mean? 20,000 people starve to death every single day of the year, while other people sit in coffee houses and drink $5 cups of coffee.

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur
Having and raising children and by that contiuing the humans species is one of the most important tasks a human can take on. Serious situations have a higher priority than work. People work to support families, not have families to have excuses to take days off.
If everyone thought like you, there would be no humans left.
So you decided to not contribute to the continuation of the human species. Fine. But don’t belittle people who took on that duty.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cwilbur what exactly is it that you do that is so insanely important? work isn’t life. if you think it is, then you’re obviously a pretty unhappy person to begin with, coworkers with kids or not. you have my pity.

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

@tinyfaery I bet when you fell ill as a kid, your mom took work off and you loved her taking care of you :]

cwilbur's avatar

@ragingloli: I am not belittling people who took on that duty. I am belittling people who took on that duty and then try to make their duty my problem. Sure, it has a higher priority than their job; that’s why they get sick days and personal days that they can take in emergencies. When they try to take more than that, they’re making their choice to take on the duty of parenting my problem, and they don’t get to do that without pissing me off. Why is that so hard to understand?

@eponymoushipster: My bosses seem to think my work is terribly important, and that it must get done, to the point of expecting me to stay late when other people are out, and scolding me when I make noises about working only reasonable hours and taking time away from work to pursue my goals.

I have a life outside of work, which is why I really resent when parents can mumble, “Oh, kid is sick” and get three or four paid days off without question, while I have to account for every moment I want to spend outside of work; parents get to walk out at 4 pm no matter what because they have to pick up their kids from daycare, while I fight to be able to go home by 7 pm some nights; and have my vacations cancelled on a whim because I don’t have kids, while parents’ vacations don’t get cancelled because hey, they’re going to Disneyworld!

I don’t think my job is so insanely important, which is why it pisses me off when parents blow it off and I’m expected to take up the slack.

Allie's avatar

Shit happens.
Kids get sick and usually can’t take care of themselves so they need a parent there. You can take care of yourself.
Assuming they actually use their sick day to take care of their sick kid, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not my co-worker is there. And personally, the note thing seems too trivial to get angry over.
When you were gone because your car broke down and you were out for three days also, I’m sure she had to pick up some of your work too.

tinyfaery's avatar

My parents rarely took days off when I was sick, they couldn’t afford it. That’s what grandma was for.

The family leave act gives parents time off for births, sickness, etc. I have no problem with that.

Another coworker of mine hurt himself bad two weeks ago. He took one day off, the only payed day off he still had. My work told him he had to come in or he would be docked pay. He can still barely walk. If you think this is okay, you are so unfair.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t care about picking up others’ slack. I care about people getting privileges that others don’t because they chose to have kids.

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

@tinyfaery I fully understand your point and it is unfair. But see my point; kids can’t take care of them self. If you think taking sick days off at work is unfair, you shouldn’t parent, at least a sick child.

cwilbur's avatar

@Allie: Sure, but we’re talking about the situation where parents don’t spend sick days on their kids—they just get the time off for free. (If they’re using their sick days, that’s fine, I have no complaint. That’s what they’re for. But that was not the original situation that @tinyfaery asked about.)

Or where parents work 9 (they can’t get in any earlier because they have to drop off their precious snowflake angels at day care) to 4 (and they can’t leave any later because they have to pick up their precious snowflake angels before the day care closes), and non-parents are expected to work 8 to 6—for the same salary.

Or where a parent who has to leave early because a kid is sick is told “Oh, just go”—and this happens at least once a month—and a person who has to leave early to pick up a car at the garage is told, “That will cost you ¼ vacation day”—and this has never happened before.

Or when bosses need to assign unpaid overtime to get a project done on time, and they go first to the childless or unmarried people, and lean on them heavily, and they even say things like “We can’t ask Fred, he has kids.”

Or when a previously approved vacation happens at a bad time for project scheduling, and the single guy is told that his vacation has to be cancelled, while the married-with-kids guy gets to go on his vacation, officially because he has kids and they shouldn’t miss the chance to go to Disneyland.

I have seen all of these situations in my working life.

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur
seems fair to me.

cwilbur's avatar

@ragingloli: You think it’s fair that people get to work fewer hours for the same pay because they’re parents, that people who don’t have kids get more unpaid overtime, and that single people can have their vacation plans cancelled by work just because they’re single?

That has to be one of the most asinine statements I’ve ever seen on Fluther, and I’ve seen some doozies.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ragingloli Instead on no one having kids let all have kids, then no one has to do any work. Awesome.

cookieman's avatar

I’m a parent and, strangely enough, I agree with @cwilbur‘s main point (I do note some resentment that has more to do with his boss and job than the question).

We all get the same paid time off – children or not. My solution: I use all my PTO for my daughter. When I have an appointment (car, doctor, etc.), I take it without pay. When I’m sick, I go to work sick.

Sucks, but I chose to adopt my daughter. My responsibilty.

That being said, @cwilbur, your boss sounds like an ass.

Allie's avatar

@cwilbur I’m not talking about situations where parents are goofing around and taking half-a-day-long showers. I am talking about days they spent taking care of a sick kid. I pointed that out in my last response (”Assuming they actually use their sick day to take care of their sick kid…”). How can anyone be so sure that the mother in @tinyfaery‘s situation didn’t spend the day at home taking care of her son? Did I miss something where @tinyfaery said the woman wasn’t taking care of her kid?

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur
it is called SOLIDARITY, the very foundation of a good society. Working parents have two hard jobs, and one of them is unpaid. They have to support other people, so the money they earn they have to share with these others. You on the other hand, only have to support yourself. In essence, you get more money for yourself than they do, because they have to share it with others.
When it comes to overtime work, it conflicts with their parenting job. The parenting job can not be placed second. They can not reasonably be made to work overtime because of their responsibility for their children. You on the other hand have no one to care for and therefore have more time on your hands.

cwilbur's avatar

@cprevite: My current boss and company are excellent; I have had some really horrible bosses in the past, which is where the resentment comes from.

(In particular, my last workplace, my boss was a total micromanager type, and that’s where most of the horror stories come from.)

@Allie: and my point is, a parent can say “My kid is sick,” and nobody bothers to check, and in @tinyfaery‘s case it didn’t even count against her coworker’s sick time. If it does count against her sick time, fine, even if the kid isn’t really sick, because that’s built into the benefits.

@ragingloli: Except that I, also, have other priorities. The working parents have two hard jobs, yes, but they signed up for one of them. They have to support other people, but they volunteered for it. I have to support myself because I chose not to have kids. They did not consult me in their decision, so I refuse to take responsibility for the ramifications of it.

I have more time on my hands, yes, but that does not mean I have any interest at all in working unpaid overtime.

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur
having children isn’t a commodity that can be dropped so easily. It is essential for the survival of the species and it is a hard job.

tinyfaery's avatar

Talk about entitlement.

YARNLADY's avatar

It sounds like the whole thing could easily solved by calling the paid days off “personal” days rather than “sick leave”. My Hubby’s work doesn’t care what the employee does when he takes a day off, and they are allowed 10 paid days a year. They clear it in advance when they can or simply call in when it is an emergency of any kind.

The days the parents take off, as allowed under California Law, are the same days that are allowed every other employee. After the 10 days paid under the company policy, any other days would be unpaid.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@tinyfaery Like I said, your boss may trust your co-worker more than you, and feel you would lie about being sick thus requesting an excuse from you. Maybe he has inside info on an illness that the other person’s child has. You work with time sheets… wow hooray for you. Quit thinking you know all there is to know about the situation. It’s up to your boss’s discretion to decide what proof he needs from his workers. When/if you’re ever a boss, you can decide how to run things then. You don’t, so you dont.

Allie's avatar

@cwilbur I agree that if a worker is gone, one sick/personal day should be taken. I’m guessing that most of the time, in most work places that is what happens. And if not, well then that’s a shitty boss. Put the blame on the boss for giving her the free days, not on the worker for taking them.

tinyfaery's avatar

You might not assume I know, but I know, and I don’t need you to believe it. I know what I am privy to and what I am not privy to. Everyone is defensive (hmm…wonder why?), but no one is sticking to the facts. Person has so many days off. She is essentially getting 3 days of free vacation because it is not coming out of her given days off. Call it whatever, sick day or personal day, she is getting a privilege other do not.

srtlhill's avatar

Oh yea I almost forgot that most of the parents do make it to work that are selling their kids candy for a fund raiser. They don’t miss a beat to hit me up for some raffle tickets or donation for candy bars during working hours. It’s usually in a company handbook not to sell stuff at work, but never enforced. Lots of rules aren’t followed as long as no one speaks up or out. I understand where you’re coming from Tinyfaery but if you can play the game usually you get away with murder. You might want to consider looking the other way like others and when you need a break go take it, at least you’re at work.

MissAusten's avatar

WOW. I can’t believe some of the hostility toward parents who work and dare to take care of their sick kids. Unfair? Who said life was fair?

When I worked full time and had two kids, I hated to take a day off because of a sick child. Not because I didn’t want to care for my kids, but because I knew what it would be like for my co-workers to have to manage without that extra pair of hands. Since I worked, my kids were in daycare. A wonderful place, very clean, but still—kids around other kids get sick no matter what. Unlike some of the girls I worked with, I didn’t have a retired parent or relative to watch my kids when they were sick.

After my son was born, I took 4 months of maternity leave. I returned to work with no sick time, and no vacation time. Unless you have had an infant that young in daycare, you have no idea how often that kid will get sick. With my son, it was even worse because each time he got a cold, he broke out in a rash. The daycare nuse would exclude him from daycare until the doctor wrote a note saying the rash was not due to a contagious illness. At least five times, I had no choice but to leave work, go to the doctor, get the exact same diagnosis of a nonspecific viral rish, take the note back, and then stay late to make up for the extra time I’d missed. Really fun and fair, huh? I was having a blast, don’t you think?

When one of my kids was sick enough to have to stay home, I tried to make other arrangements so I could at least work part of the day. It wasn’t always possible. Almost all of the time, I had to take unpaid. I didn’t like letting people down, but I’ll be damned if I was going to dose my kid up on Tylenol or cold medicine and take them to daycare anyway.

Who here has been puked on at five a.m.? Worked while sick, went five years without using a single vacation day for something other than a sick child, had an infant with a temp of 104 for five days straight while your coworkers thought you were making it up because you didn’t get a promotion (because of those sick days for your kids), worked longer days to make up for missed time, forgone your own medical and dental care because you couldn’t stomach the thought of asking for an hour here or there? Those are the joys of being a working parent. Yeah, I can see how the unfairness of it all would really rankle.

My opinion is, if you don’t have kids or aren’t a working parent with no one to fall back on when your kids are sick, you have absolutely no idea what it is like. You may think it’s your business or that you know every detail of someone’s life and are therefore entitled to judge them. You don’t. Have a couple of kids, live it, and then see if you still feel the same way.

YARNLADY's avatar

So what you are really complaining about is a bad company policy, not a parent taking time off. Yes, you are correct, all employees should be allowed the same amount of time off, without having to bring a note from (whoever).

tinyfaery's avatar

@YARNLADY Thank you. Take your given days off, use them for whatever, but don’t try to get more privileges JUST because you have children.

Allie's avatar

@tinyfaery Did she ask for free days off, or was she just given or offered them? If she asked for them, then that’s one thing. If she was given them, that’s another. You can bet I wouldn’t turn down free days off. I’m guessing you wouldn’t either.

Again, this sounds more and more like a problem with the boss, not the worker.

MissAusten's avatar

Oh, I should add to my post above: I did not complain at all about having to deal with both my family and my job. Even when my infant son started getting sick so often that I was written up and told that any more missed time would result in being fired. I knew where my boss was coming from, even though part of me wanted to ask why the past four years of being a model employee didn’t count for anything. I wanted to ask her to give me some leeway until my son was a little older and his immune system was a little stronger. I was very angry that all of the extra tasks I took on to help make up for days off with my sick kids (and yes, I usually had to bring a note from the pediatrician) ended up not counting for anything. But…that’s life. That’s being a working parent.

That was the point where I decided not to be a working parent any more. Being a stay at home mom isn’t much easier (still don’t have time to get myself to the doctor or dentist as often as I should), but at least my kids have the luxury of being as sick as they want as often as they want.

Also, a company that allows “special treatment” for parents has a poor policy. Everyone deserves a bit of understanding, but anyone taking advantage should be dealth with appropriately.

tinyfaery's avatar

I would turn down free days off. It’s simply unfair. Just because someone offers me a free pass does not mean I’d take it. It wouldn’t really create a positive work environment.

benjaminlevi's avatar

If it is a choice between being unfair to adults and unfair to children I think we should be unfair to adults,.

@ragingloli Yes of course it is necessary for some people to have children to continue the species, but I don’t really consider it one of the most important tasks a human could take on. We are rapidly closing in on a population of seven billion, so we are not going to go extinct because people decide not to have children, at least not anytime soon.

srtlhill's avatar

To all hard working dedicated parents that do their jobs in and out of work Thank You.
Thank You for being a contribution to a healthy society.
To all the parents that suck, grow up and raise your family
quit being irresponsible at home and at work. The rest of us don’t want to pick up the slack.
Thank you again to all the hard working parents, I don’t know how hard it must be at times.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@tinyfaery Quit belly aching about it… your boss has the right to treat her differently in this situation if he chooses! Get over it or get another job. From the sounds of your posts, you probably get the short treatment b/c of the type of worker you are. And quit acting like you’re the boss and no everything going on. If you were so valuable to the company, you wouldn’t be the one getting the short end of the stick. Either way, he doesn’t have to be fair so quit crying about it.

tinyfaery's avatar

@BBSDTfamily You know shit about me, and many things.

Be happy with your privileged stature.

Response moderated
Response moderated
Supacase's avatar

Those kids should plan their illnesses better. What do they think weekends and holidays are for, anyway? The amount of time people take for their 10 minute smoke break once an hour probably adds up to more than an extra day or two a parent takes. And, seriously, same as your cat? I mean, I love my cat, but she can be boarded at the vet and looked after quite well if she is sick for a week.

Your company sounds jacked up to me. Time off policies should be the same for everyone. There are always going to be special circumstances and they may not always even out in the long run, but I have never worked anywhere other than an extremely large and impersonal call center that wouldn’t give everyone some leeway for various situations. It has never been an issue to take 10 minutes and have someone follow me over to run my car to the shop or call in late because I was in a minor accident or let me take a long lunch for a doctor’s appointment. Maybe that’s because I worked my ass off the rest of the time… although, every employer has always been reasonable with every employee in those regards until they started taking advantage of it.

My husband could, and once did, come home because I am completely unstrung after a particularly bad day of parenting. He, and every other employee in his department, can take a long lunch or go drop their car off, come in late, etc. It is because they are salary and they work long ass hours. This is a very large company that all of you would immediately recognize by name, btw, not some small family-run business. I would like to know the last time he left the office at 5:00! He typically gets home at 7:00pm, eats dinner and plays with our daughter for a bit, then goes downstairs to work from home until 1:00am. It is not uncommon for his time sheets to be 80 or 90 hours per week. His boss tells him he needs to take time off, but then admits he can’t schedule him off. He has taken ONE day off this year. He gets nothing extra from all of this work other than a little bit of leniency in his schedule. How is that fair? It isn’t. Life, and work, are not and never will be fair. Everybody has a pity party story of some kind.

It pains me to say it and it took me a long time to accept it because it goes against my sense of what is just, but it is simply a fact. My mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.” I always replied, “But it should be.” I still believe that, but I have seen enough to know differently.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s try to keep this discussion civil folks.

ubersiren's avatar

I just want to say that I’m glad this has been brought up. Certain things should be discussed at length. GQ, @tinyfaery .

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Are they getting paid for the days? Using up their sick time/vacation days? When my children were young, I used my sick days and vacation time to take care of them, and when those ran out, I had to take unpaid days. Parents get to take off because there is no one else to take care of sick children. They cannot go to school or daycare, and most communities don’t have sick child care. While admittedly you could leave a 17 year old home alone, you don’t really know what the actual issue was that the parent was dealing with, with the child. When my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed, and her tonsils taken out at age 16, there was no way she could have been home alone for the recuperation period.

I’ve never taken off to take care of my husband when he was sick, except when he had surgery, and I used my sick days and vacation time.

Supacase's avatar

I thought about this a little more and regardless of opinions and emotions on the subject matter I am left wondering if you have pursued this within the company. Since this bothers you so much and you do indeed know the facts, have you filed a complaint with HR? I believe that would be the appropriate step to take in this situation if you have gotten nowhere by speaking with your supervisor. The responsibility for this lands squarely on the shoulders of your boss, not your coworker, and if he is unwilling to resolve it properly then the company should step in and take care of it.

Jeruba's avatar

A good, rational answer, @Supacase. GA.

jonsblond's avatar

This is one of the reasons why I don’t work stay at home. My precious snowflake angels need a parent that can be home with them when they are sick without all the BS from the office. So we don’t drive a new car or get to go to the movies or out to dinner. We can barely afford school supplies. At least my children have a parent at home to rely on.

end rant

I would like to stress what @casheroo said. When a parent leaves work for a sick child, it’s not all fun and games for the parent. I missed several days due to my children being sick with strep throat once. I used up all my sick days and some of my vacation days to take care of my children. I came back to the office having a co-worker of mine tell me that she hadn’t missed a day in 5 years. She took much joy (in fact, her name was Joy) rubbing that fact in. . I lost her respect after missing so many days just because I took care of my children. It was difficult to work there any longer and I eventually quit.

Some people may abuse the system, but that is a small minority.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Really, this question isn’t about sick kids, or about parents getting to take off. The real question is whether or not the workplace discriminates against childless employees.

If your company has a policy statement or employee handbook, that covers time off and a grievance procedure, you could complain about your manager discriminating against you because you are single. The definition of microinequity seems to be somewhat relevant.

I would really question why this happens every place that you work. Is it the nature of the type of work that you perform that places have these rules? Is it personal?

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery Really? If your boss came to you and said “take Friday off, because you are single and we have unfairly allowed parents to have time off” you wouldn’t take it?

Judi's avatar

I didn’t read all those long posts, but aren’t parents, spouses and even children covered by the Family Leave Act?

sandystrachan's avatar

God forbid a child gets ill during the time you don’t have sick days , force the children to not get ill . Come on this is just stupid ANY parent with al ill child regardless of age their mind would be elsewhere and not on the job , if someone is ill and is 17 or 18 years of age ok they can stay at home alone . But if they are ill how can they get the proper care if no1 is home looking after them ???
I am glad i aint your child i might be dead already .

ubersiren's avatar

@Supacase : I was actually thinking similarly last night. Seems like a problem with the company itself if it really is as bad as she’s saying it is. If parents really are given special privilege, she should probably mention it to the higher ups or HR. Absolutely GA.

Jenniehowell's avatar

It’s one of those unfortunate catch22 situations.

Family should come first in every country & any morph in that direction is good but those of us who don’t have children shouldn’t be punished by more work hours/more work responsibilities or the same pay for more work than co-workers

I went through the same thing in the military. We would all be out on det for 6mos & everyone with kids would have to double parent the kids on trips to the doctor etc. I used to wonder “if your wife managed to deal with the kids alone for six months while you were floating in the ocean without her can’t she manage one more doctor visit while you’re at work during the day?” the same thing applies to smokers (at least in th military) those are some break taking folks right there compared to those of us working all day LITERALLY

MissAusten's avatar

@Judi FMLA, as far as I know, only applies to extended missed time. You wouldn’t be able to use it if your kid was sick for a day or two. I don’t remember what the exact requirements are, but I know that I asked my boss about FMLA when my son was very sick for five days. That case would have qualified if I hadn’t used my available FMLA time for maternity leave just a few months before. I’m not sure if most people realize that FMLA can apply to circumstances other than a drastic, extended illnes or maternity leave. Anyone who has to take several days off due to illness should look into it because your boss certainly won’t tell you about it voluntarily.

As an example, my husband was in a car accident and broke a vertebrae. He had other injuries, but that broken bone prevented him from even being able to get up to use the bathroom. I took a week off to take care of him until he could get around on his own, took a lot of crap from my boss about it, and then years later found out that time should have been covered by FMLA. I had vacation and sick time at that point, which didn’t stop my boss from holding it against me. There are days when I miss having a regular job, but then I remember this kind of nonsense and I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with it.

cwilbur's avatar

@Supacase: When I worked for the company that treated the childless so unfairly, I did complain to HR, and the answer I got was, “Your boss is a director of the company. We can’t do anything unless you file a lawsuit.” And at this point I’m no longer working for that company—and, probably more relevantly, out of 10 people who answered to her when I started work there, only 2 are still with the company, and the other partners finally realized what a disaster she was, bought her out, and replaced her. Unfortunately, it was long after the damage was done.

It doesn’t make any sort of good business sense to treat people unfairly. People resent it, and if the people who resent it are the backbone of your department—because they’re the ones who actually show up and get the work done—and the people you’re treating preferentially are not the backbone of your department—because they take too much sick time and are rarely actually working—then when the resentful people leave, your department collapses.

And the vast majority of parents are great coworkers, but there’s usually one in every office who is all about getting an edge and taking advantage wherever possible. It’s the job of a good HR department to set and establish reasonable and fair policies, and the job of a boss to enforce them fairly and consistently regardless of the gender, religion, marital status, or family configuration of the employee.

ubersiren's avatar

You all must work for some suck-ass companies. I’ve worked for some heartless people, but was never treated unfairly for not having children. wtf? I want to know where these places are so I never work there.

wundayatta's avatar

@cwilbur Life isn’t fair. The legal system does not treat people equally. Our society doesn’t believe in treating everyone exactly the same. Different people are compensated differently because society wants to encourage or discourage various behaviors. The tax system allows big tax breaks for homeowners, and disses people who rent. It also lets single people off with lower tax rates than married people (the so-called “marriage penalty”).

You want equal time off? I think you should also pay your fair share of taxes—a rate equivalent to married couples’ rates. Hmmmm. Is that a deal you would take? Or would you do a cost analysis first? Is it principle you stand on, or self-interest?

It’s foolish to want to treat all people equally, I think. It ignores the fact that we want, as a society, to encourage some behavior because they are valuable to society. Like it or not, having families is one of those things society wants to encourage. So is home ownership. So is the defense industry. So is buying fuel efficient cars (or is was for a few weeks).

We encourage savings for retirement. We encourage health insurance coverage. Health insurance is part of our compensation, but we don’t have to pay taxes on it. Young people, on average, are healthier and consume far fewer health services. Yet at an employer who covers everyone equally, they pay the same rates as a person who is in the hospital half the time.

There’s the “living wage” movement that believes that if people work, they should be paid a wage that allows them a certain “minimum” standard of living. They don’t believe the market should determine wage rates.

Society will provide assistance to poor women with children, not men or women without children. Why? We want children to be taken care of well, since they are our future. If we skimp on their care, they suffer, and we will all suffer. If you don’t give parents time off for childcare or sick days, they will figure out ways of working even when people are sick. This spreads infectious diseases. No one wants to work next to a hacking co-worker or child.

I’m sorry, but fairness in terms of equality in everything is not a part of this society, or, I would wager, any society. Complain if you wish, but you’re fighting a losing battle. Family is too important in our society.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@ubersiren: It’s a well known, well documented occurrence in the workforce. Those with children are treated differently from those without. At times it hurts those without (Oh, so-and-so can stay late to finish this, s/he doesn’t have kids to get home to) and at times it hurts those with (mommy-tracking). One of the many things you should always look into when applying for a new long term position, is how that company treats whichever you are. If you are a parent, parenting magazines generally look into this regularly. If you are a non-parent, there are other sources you can check.

cwilbur's avatar

@ubersiren: It has a lot to do with your chain of supervisors; even within the same company, some supervisors are much, much worse than others. The only thing you can do is, when you find yourself working for a horrorshow of a boss, to change jobs as quickly as you can.

@daloon: Fairness in terms of equality in everything is a part of this society, or have you managed to miss the civil rights movement and the equal protection clause?

I’d love to pay taxes at the married rate. When the federal government deigns to recognize any marriage I might enter into, we’ll talk about it. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to be content with my taxes going to support AFDC and public schools, two services I will certainly never use.

And, really, it’s not that I want to prevent parents from taking time off from work to take care of their kids. It’s that I want the contract between employer and employee to be consistent and consistently enforced. There are many official benefits I don’t get because I’m unmarried: I’m unlikely to ever take maternity leave, for instance, and the bar for me to qualify for FMLA leave is considerably higher than for someone with kids.

What I object to is inconsistent standards, where an employee can mumble “daycare” and be allowed to consistently work a 5— or 6-hour day while getting paid a full salary, while another childless employee gets stuck with frequent unpaid overtime on the same salary. This does not happen because society values children, but because bosses are inconsistent and employees figure out that they can play the “parent” card to get better treatment. The same set of rules needs to apply to everyone; if you want formal rules that say that parents get a free pass on sick time to take care of children, fine, but that needs to be a formal written policy.

Supacase's avatar

I have not had a job since becoming a mother, but I never ran into this during the 14 years of employment as a single person. Sure, parents might have taken more time off, but they had to use up their vacation or take it unpaid. I have worked in places from a small family-owned business to a very large corporation. I was just lucky, I guess.

YARNLADY's avatar

Is this the same company that insists your arms (tattoos) must be covered? Maybe you want to look at other employment opportunities.

wundayatta's avatar

@cwilbur Inconsistent application of work policies is a different issue than what’s fair and equal. The Constitution forbids discrimination (and presumably, the opposite: favoritism) on the basis of race and sex, but not, as far as I know, on marital status. I fact, it is well known that not everyone can marry legally, so it is clear that our legal system thinks it is quite all right to discriminate against people who are not allowed legal marriage.

I agree that policies should be more clearly stated at work. However, we are an employment-at-will country, and except where workers are protected by unions, employers can run their work places pretty much however they want, so long as their actions are not illegal. They don’t need to have formal policies and procedures as a matter of legal responsibility. They don’t have to be fair. If you want your employee to treat you fairly, organize a union. Otherwise you have no protection. One could also argue that employees who are unwilling to engage in collective action really are complicit with the bosses treating them however they want to.

But fairness in the workplace is largely a matter of philosophy and idiosyncracy. It’s not a matter of law. Favoritism is legal. The only protection a worker has is if they organize, and even that isn’t a done deal. If you don’t like the way an employer treats you, you can either organize, complain, or find another job. Of the three, I think complaining is the easiest, but finding another job is probably the most effective.

Judi's avatar

Familial status is a protected class.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am a working mother. My husband is a stay-at-home parent. He is my back-up for when the kids are sick. Grandma works too, so she can’t just ‘swoop’ in and help. Personal days is what I will use for emergencies with my kids so I never take them for myself. Those are the sacrifices I make willingly, because, yes I chose to have kids. If I run out of personal days (this has never happened) and my kids are really sick, I would hope that my boss is understanding that I have to take care of my children, obviously. And I hope that you understand that a child doesn’t equal a car, because your car can wait but my infant in need of an x-ray, for example, will not. Going along with what @The_Compassionate_Heretic was saying (though he does sound bitter about a previous experience, I think) people shouldn NOT use their children as an excuse to get time off – this is NOT fair to those without children. I think I am a responsible employee, many people rely on me, but my kids come before my job and thankfully, my boss’s kids come before hers. In the public health world, where a lot more mothers than fathers work, the climate is more understanding as we’re all in the same boat. And believe you me, when I take a sick day because the kid is sick, it is not a free fun filled day – it is probably a very stressful day in my life, full of anxiety and I’d much rather be at work with my kids healthy than at home or at the doctor’s scared.

cwilbur's avatar

@daloon: Actually, as @Judi points out, in many states family status is a protected class. This means it’s illegal for an employer to treat employees differently based on it. It’s not covered by the federal Constitution, but the states are allowed to make laws that govern business transactions in their state.

cookieman's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: ”my boss’s kids come before hers
I think this is key to having a balanced work environment where the whole office (company) has the right perspective.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cprevite I want to say I’m lucky
I have a boss that cares about my emotional well-being and I love what I do. I don’t want to take time off – that’s the point.

wundayatta's avatar

@cwilbur Do you know which states?

wundayatta's avatar

I just did a little research, and generally it looks to me as if the family status being protected is that of people with children. I.e., you can’t be denied housing or employment because you have kids.

I didn’t see anything that had to do with equal treatment in the workplace, or whether hours of work or time off could be or not be provided in a differential way given family status. I think that as a matter of need, if the employer provides family leave, or childcare leave, then it will be used more by people with children than those without.

If the leave extends to caring for parents, then it seems to me that singles and parents might avail themselves of it in a more equal manner. However, its main point seems to be that employment can not be denied to people with kids simply because they might take more time off to care for the kids.

jca's avatar

FMLA is for family members also but you have to be out more than three days. Where i work you have to have exhausted all of your other time in order to use it.

@Tinyfery: you do not know what private conversations your coworker has had with the boss. You do not know what other arrangements she has. You may not even know if she has worked extra “off the clock” when you are not there to see it. All you know is that she is getting paid despite being out.

Judi's avatar

@jca ; and she may be taking the time off without pay. (Probably is.)

cwilbur's avatar

@jca, @Judi: Did you miss the part in this response where @tinyfaery said that she worked on timesheets and knew very well that the employee was getting a free pass?

Judi's avatar

@cwilbur; I did miss that. Thanks.

jca's avatar

@cwilbur: yes i did get the part where she said she worked on timesheets and knew very well the employee was getting a free pass, and i believe i acknowledged that. however, was she present for each and every conversation the employee may have had with the boss, maybe behind closed doors? maybe in the hallway, in the parking lot, when tiny was not in the office, etc? no. so she does not really know all that is going on, she’s not privy to it, and the conversations that may have occurred between the employee and the supervisor are their business, not the business of the entire office. i said that in my previous answer – she does not know what conversations took place. she knows ONLY that the woman is getting 3 days of paid vacation.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca since when does a simple conversation or two constitute grounds for special treatment in any case? I shouldn’t have to be privy to anything other than the knowledge that I get the same amount of days off paid & unpaid as my coworkers unless they are using an FMLA related set of days legally afforded them that I do not receive. To advocate private conversations as a means for any special circumstance outside of what is afforded to others would be to take away someone elses rights to having the equal opportunity to life, liberty & THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. it would be like the criminal having a special conversation with the judge & just cancelling out the jury’s decisions – lawyers & the media would have a coniption fit over that sort of thing as would everyone watching the news reporting it. You could golf with the boss or be sleeping with him – heck your kids could be his for all I care & I don’t have to be privy to any of that in order to recognize discrimination in the work place where certain people get more privileges than others. & @daloon I agree with you in that our laws have never created fairness but I disagree with that unfortunate fact. It is unfortunate that while married people may pay a higher tax rate than their single friends their single friends pay for over 1138 different benefits only afforded to legally married people. Quite an imbalance especially considering the inequalities relating to work hours that are being mentioned by some here. What can a person do really? I know that in my job complaining is not what I do. I document & record & copy everything & when I am secure somewhere else my documentation will be sent in a report to the authorities. If I have learned anything in life it is that if a company is doing anything fraudulent or illegal (most are doing at least one illegal thing) in any category then employee morale isn’t something to take lightly & if you do you’ll end up with one like me who has your millions of dollars of fraud copied for their reading pleasure.

jca's avatar

@Jenniehowell : all i’m saying is that she just does not know. she does not know what was discussed or agreed upon. i’m not saying it means special treatment. she does not know what was exchanged, bargained for, given up, agreed. that’s all. maybe there are extenuating circumstances. maybe the person worked extra on some project in the past and did not get compensated, and boss is returning the favor. maybe maybe maybe is ALL i’m saying. she does not know. maybe there is some special treatment or discrimination but she does not know for sure. that’s all – she does not know for sure.

jca's avatar

before i had a child, i remember one day it snowed, and people at my job were getting to leave early because the roads were getting bad. my supervisor at the time (who i must add was very generous with giving all employees a little extra time off for children, doctor, errands, life stuff, so nobody complained because everybody received the generosity) it was two of us left in my unit and supervisor told my coworker to be the one to leave because coworker had to pick her daughter up. i was thinking at the time, that means my life is worth less because i don’t have a child? that means JCA has to risk having an accident because coworker has kid?

however, now that i have a child of my own, i understand. i understand that if something happened, i would just leave whether they said i could or not. i would just get up and go if i had to. they could punish me, write me up, discipline me, discuss it another time. of course, permission to go and leaving with a clear conscience is wonderful, but if push came to shove, i would be up and out. child has to come first, no ifs ands or buts. if someone called and said the child was sick in the hospital and parent had to come immediately, do you think there’s a parent on the planet that would say “no, my boss says i can’t leave work?” or “i have no sick time left and i don’t want to upset my coworkers?” never.

so have a child and then see if you feel differently. see, like eponymoushipster said, how it changes the way you see things. ultimately, many times parents have no choice.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca no discussion is justification for one employee to have privilege over another -the same rules should apply to those of the same place or rank in the heirarchy of the company & that’s the end of it. There may be a million reasons but none of those reasons change the ruled whatever they are & in most companies breaking the rules is a punishable offense.
On the other hand I’m with you – I don’t ask for time off like some of my coworkers do I tell my boss when I’m taking it. If that means that I don’t get paid for some days or that he hires someone who works more hours than I do to take my place then that is my consequence, but whether it’s for a sick day, a sick kid, a funeral or to go to six flags with my friends my life belongs to me & my work is not my life it’s just one little part of it. If I worked with you & you had been told to stay in snowy weather when you had kids I’d have volunteered to take your place & cheered you on as you left, but if all the employees who left thought they should have paid time off when they’d used all their days just cause the boss sent them home I’d be laughing at them as I walked off with my paycheck. Lol

jca's avatar

where i work (government) you have a set amount of time off – sick, annual and personal. if you exceed that time, nobody can tell you not to take off because if you have to, you have to, it just will be without pay. i have had times toward the end of the year when i’ve had to take a day or two without pay, if my daughter was sick. i had no choice. i just did it. if i were tiny and i felt someone got special treatment, honestly, i would try to investigate further and if it continued i’d leave. but before that, the time sheet would not be enough verification for me, because she just does not know for sure. i always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, if anything, to make myself feel better. i know at my last job, you just worried about yourself. the attitude was worry about yourself, not be in other people’s business. that’s a good philosophy, too.

wundayatta's avatar

@Jenniehowell I think it would be useful to have a conversation about fairness. I’m not at all sure that single people and married people understand each other’s concerns.

Was that number “1138” something you drew out of a hat, or is it related to some study somewhere? I know that married people have certain automatic contractual arrangements, such as inheritance rights and medical power of attorney, but I’m not sure if there is any equivalent need for single people, unless you are talking about singles in a long term relationship but who are not legally married (and don’t live in a common law state).

I’m also not sure why you went into that discussion about fraud. Is it fraudulent to treat workers differently, especially in an employment-at-will situation? The United States is a country where workers have very few rights. The few they have are generally the result of organizing efforts so they can present a united front to management.

Sure, there are protected classes, but I still don’t think that single people are included as a protected class. Families are, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that single people are. Single people seem to be more valued by employers, probably because they can work longer and harder. They tend to be younger, so they cost less, both in terms of salary, but also in health insurance. Elderly folks are often fired so that younger people can replace them and costs can be reduced for the firm. And despite the protection for employees with families, employers still fire them in favor of single people who are much less costly.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@daloon yes the 1138 is a real number – single unmarried people in the US pay for 1138 bennies that are afforded to only married people.
Is it fraud to treat some workers differeny than others? Yes – the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commussion), the dept of labor & more require equal treatment in the work place. If you can prove your case you can win using those entities & others without spending a dine of your own money to fight the case. A co-worker of mine just won 50,000 dollars last year for the exact reason. The workplace was treating some differently than others & because she kept proofs & documentation she now is 50k more wealthy. The law includes for equal rights in the work place even in “at will” states like the one I live in. Most people don’t challenge the company for fear of losing their job or out of not knowing they can. Like I said when I’m gone guess who’s gonna want their millions back? Ole uncle Sam & I’ll be happy on another job when he jerks his money back from my sheisty boss. If he paid attention to little things like employee morale we may nit gave even noticed but he keeps screwing people & losing his money. Don’t treat people equal & eventually they get you back.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Jenniehowell: 1138 is only one of many numbers. There are national rights and privileges and then there are state granted rights and privileges. But a very large number of those are completely irrelevant to anything except the fact that gay people can’t marry. I mean, sure, we “pay” for the right of a woman to visit her husband on his deathbed. And single people don’t get the right to visit their… see where I’m going with this? Most of those rights are things that single people cannot have because they are single. If you don’t have a spouse, you can’t combine your finances with them legally. If you don’t have a spouse, who exactly do you WANT to make the legal decisions for should they become unable to? or the medical decisions? or visit on their deathbed? or pull the plug on?

I have great sympathy when that number is used to point out the seriousness of forbidding gay marriage. Here, it seems a bit bizarre.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@EmpressPixie – so true that number is not inclusive of all the numbers – and though I am a lesbian & very supportive of equal rights for them/(us in my case) I cannot deny that it is single unmarried people who pay those 1138 bennies right along side us for those married people in the US. That is why I feel it applies to this discussion based on earlier conversation re: taxes etc. & the imbalance of child rearers & non as far as what we all give. The marriage tax was brought up so I counter with the many things unmarried people pay for that are just for married couples – it goes further with childless paying many taxes that go toward things for children only (like public school).

Additionally, I simply find it funny that thru this whole discussion child rearers have (in general) made one reasoning after another to argue for days off for child related things (which @tinyfeary did even dispute or mention), bringing up taxes, single freedom, secret private side conversations/deals all to justify legally proveable (if someone used a copy machine) fraud by an employer who pays some for not working penalizing others. People have said the boss can choose at his discretion who to give free days to (not legally true) & people have used the further the population excuse (even though our globe/country is so overpopulated & far away from extinction that it can be argued the overpopulating is a (if not the) main contributor to poverty, famine, environmental issues & more as opposed to some lovely image of “village raise the child” euphoria). In the end perhaps the question should have been “who is justified in receiving unequal privileges of paid days off over all others?” cause that answer was surely given in this forum by parents who seem to me to be seeking equal pay through the back door for a job that gets no compensation & won’t until we parent our children to create a better society that includes among other things equality.

I think parents are great, the job of parenting is THE most important job worldwide, that all should pitch in even if they are sans children (hence taxes & charities etc) – I think parents need more support than they get & I will/do give when I can, but the importance of parenting does not supercede the importance of equality or the importance of teaching equality to the coming generations so I’m with @tinyfaery & @cwilbur & others who suffer at the hands of any unequal situation with regards to their constitutional rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness or to equal opportunity to succeed or fail on their own without interference.

jca's avatar

here’s an example of what i was referring to when i talked about the person having a private conversation with her boss: real life example: i have a friend who frequently stays late, works on weekends, does not take lunch hour (eats at her desk for 15 minutes), despite getting a lunch hour that she is not paid for. if she’s going on vacation she will stay late several nights (i mean like till 9, 10 or 11 when she stops getting paid at 5) come in on weekend before or after vacation just to catch up. would this be a person who, perhaps, if she needed to take a day because her child was sick, might be afforded the privilege of not being charged her time? she does this because where she works it’s just her and another secretary, and if she does not do what she’s supposed to do, nobody does it for her and it gets backed up. so once in a while if she needs to go to the doctor or something like that, the boss will let her go and not charge her time. and no, this person is not me, it’s a friend of mine, who we feel is a little too generous with her time, but that’s my point. there are all kinds of special circumstances that may intervene in a case like the one in question. who’s to say? that’s what i have been getting at with my “private conversation” argument. you just don’t know.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca in the explanations @tinyfaery has given it was mentioned that tiny is privy to the timesheets/HR related info.

If your friend works 40hrs a week & has to work OT to cover for lost time etc. Then it’s all good but if your friend works 32 hours has a private moment with the boss then gets paid for 40 hello EEOC/dept of labor & legalities cause now there’s an unequal balance. Any time you give one thing to one person over another it is inequality & in the work place equality is almost always covered by law

jca's avatar

i am confused about what you wrote. if my friend’s job will not pay overtime, but my friend (foolishly, I think) works 50 or 60 hours on a regular basis. She still only gets paid for 35 hours. She does this because she has free time that she is willing to give up, and she says that if she does not do it, she will become hopelessly backed up. So on occasion, if she needs to go to the doctor, or something like that, the boss will not make her charge her time off (like everyone else has to, in other words, charge her personal time, sick time, etc) because he knows that she has given so much extra of her own time that if he were to do tit for tat he would spite himself. This excess that my friend does is not indicated on any time sheet, because she would not be paid for it. It is her giving her free time to the job. Her coworker does not know all of the time, becuase my friend does not feel a need to tell her “I was here this weekend on Saturday” or “I stayed Friday night until 7.” That is what i am trying to explain. You keep talking about inequality and the law, and EEOC, Dept of Labor and all that bullshit, and i am talking about a simple reasonable thing. Boss knows he has gotten way more than the employee. Boss knows it. Boss repays favor on occasion with some time off. He is giving maybe a few hours, and it keeps morale up in that my friend is grateful and does not mind giving so much of her free time to him. That’s what i meant when I said Tiny does not know what has been exchanged. Maybe there’s been some extra the employee has worked and not been reimbursed for. Tiny does not know everything done by every employee.

cwilbur's avatar

@jca: Your friend’s boss is doing something illegal, whether you think it’s stupid or not.

What he should do is establish comp time policies, and have your friend record all her hours. Then, when he gives her extra time off, he can say that it comes out of comp time.

Otherwise, he’s showing favoritism to one employee.

(And I think your friend is an idiot for donating that much time to her job, but it’s her life.)

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca first your friend doesn’t even apply in the example @tinyfaery gave because tiny is talking about people who get paid equal fir working less. That is exactly what I’m talking about is funny in my earlier comment – all these people coming up with example after example for why parents can leave early or how they sometimes work harder when those things aren’t the issue – the issue is guy A works 40hrs+ & is penalized if his car breaks down or if he gets the flu & guy B works 32 hours but gets paid as if he did 40+ because the boss babies those in the company who have babies. However important parenting is guy B is taking advantage of the other employees by accepting free days off above what others get & the boss is breaking the law by giving them to some & not others not to mention contributing to low morale & a hostile work environment.

As far as your friend goes it sounds like she’s more like guy A who’s getting screwed than guy B cohort with scam boss screwing coworkers over. As a matter of fact according to the law your friend can’t be forced to work overtime without pay (in some states time & ½). She needs to spend a few of her extra hours printing her emails & creating a case so when she gets a new job she can get some back pay.

jca's avatar

@cwilbur : i absolutely agree she’s stupid for donating free time to the job. the job is lucky to have her. i have told her and the union has told her she is working someone else out of a job, because the job should get backed up and then they’d realize they need to hire somebody more. what she’s doing is “enabling” them. i guess what boss is doing is like informal comp time. like i said, if he busted her chops about it he would be hurting himself because he knows how much free time she gives. now her coworker on the other hand does no overtime and takes her lunch (as i do, i’m no fool) and the coworker charges her time appropriately, in other words, gives nothing gets nothing. that’s the way most of us government workers are. do your time, leave on time.

@Jenniehowell : i think my friend is guy B but she works 50 or 60 hours and gets paid as if she did 40 hours (actually 35). as for your second paragraph she’s not being forced, she’s just being generous on her own (i, along with cwilbur, would say “stupid” but like he said, it’s her life). she can’t print emails and make a case for some back pay because the job made it clear they don’t pay overtime and they’re not making her do it.

so my point is just how does tiny know the worker did not come in on a saturday or something, and now she says “remember that day you asked me to come in for the emergency? well now i need to take the day off.” i’m saying repeatedly she just does not know.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I mean is it really a surprise that there are legal incentives to marry and have children…it’s not…we live in a heteronormative, supposedly ‘family values’ world…where social institutions support a nuclear family model…you want to change that? fine..but then you gotta give up some of the independent, capitalist drive stuff

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca “how did tiny know,,,,?” if you read above you see that tiny deals with time sheets – that us how tiny knows.

As far as your friend goes the boss can make it clear all day about not paying her overtime but legally the boss is liable for letting her even come in & work for free. Obviously she won’t complain cause she likes being under thumb but if a coworker or the union mentions it officially enuf the boss will put a stop to it. Accepting her overtime work is like authorizing it when a judge looks at it – which means the boss has to pay (all it takes is a complaint to the right entity and wallah your friend will either be fired for working over without authorization for pay, be getting paid for her OT, or heavily restricted from popping up at work more than 40 hours. & thru it all someone like tiny will be looking at the timesheets as it all goes down so no one can play the “we didn’t know she was working OT card”.

jca's avatar

@Jenniehowell : if you look at what I wrote i said clearly my friend does not tell her coworker nor would this extra time be reflected on any time sheet as she is not getting paid for it.

the boss is liable as far as insurance goes – her being on company property and covered under workmen’s comp if she’s injured. if the coworker mentioned it to the boss, i’m sure the boss would tell her to mind her business. the union cannot put a stop to something someone does voluntarily. she is not being forced to work overtime, she is not being asked, she is doing it on her own, i think she has her own reasons like she likes to be needed and she has the time to spare. so your theory about accepting it – she’s not accepting it, she’s just doing it. no boss in their right mind would “restrict” as you say someone working for free. there are no time sheets reflecting this, again, going back to my saying Tiny just does not know. My friend’s coworker just does not know either. However, when the boss let’s her take a few hours off, that’s between her and him only. I repeat: Tiny Just Does Not Know.

ShanEnri's avatar

I was late to work once when my sitter didn’t show, and I got wrote up! Maybe it’s just your boss?

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca if your friend has a need to feel needed then guaranteed someone knows about it without someone having knowledge there’s no way for her to get all the comment/praise she gets ghat makes her feel needed even if it’s only you & either way the boss is liable for allowing it on any level.
As far as bosses accepting free work & saying no – they do it all the time not because they want to but because they have to – the same reason many places have policies against accepting gifts from clients or potential clients. Who would give a free gift back right? Well a bunch of people do because accepting it makes them automatically liable for a whole list of things. The law doesn’t care about peoples greed or need to feel needed & bosses know that from the government on down. Bosses across America are generally too smart to risk their company or their jobs & the ones who aren’t will all eventually pay fir their stupidity

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca by the way if it’s not provable on paper then again it’s a side agreement & still there’s a liability to the boss for special treatment. The boss can make side agreements all day but without timeclock or some paper proof that the person worked equal hours fir equal pay then tiny can more easily win in court

jca's avatar

if my friend and others like her are doing something illegal she and they all should be arrested. signs should be posted in work places stating “don’t stay after without pay or you may be arrested and imprisoned.” that’s just ludicrous. if someone voluntarily stays at their job to clean up their desk or do some notes or whatever they do, nobody is going to pay them. where i work, which is for the government (and she works too, but for another department) you don’t get paid for just staying for no reason. unless there was an emergency, you’re off the clock when it’s time for you to leave. if you decide to stay, you’re not getting paid. There should be many people arrested, according to you.

tiny cannot win anything in court because she has no proof there was no comp time informally. as i stated before she just does not know and she cannot know all that takes place in the office. if i go in and tell my supervisor something, is she going to broadcast it to the office? no. is it anybody’s business what i discuss with my supervisor? no.

this argument is going on long enough. it’s making me tired.

cwilbur's avatar

@jca: If @tinyfaery decided to sue on the grounds of unfair treatment, she’d win, because the informal agreement for comp time wouldn’t hold up in court. The requirement for employers to treat all employees fairly and consistently isn’t enforced by the police, it’s enforced by the courts when someone sues.

There’s nothing illegal about your friend donating her time. There is quite a bit illegal about a boss requiring one employee to use vacation or sick time when that employee must be out of the office, while allowing another to be out of work on the clock. “Side agreements” are not worth anything here; the business needs to be run according to its written policies, and if it’s not, that’s grounds for a lawsuit.

It is other employees’ business if what you discuss with your supervisor leads your supervisor to treat employees inconsistently or unfairly, or in violation of the business’s policies. It’s not difficult to have policies that allow for flexibility; you write things like “Employees may be given additional paid time off at the supervisor’s discretion for family or personal needs.” But in the absence of a policy like that, unfair and inconsistent treatment from your supervisor is illegal.

It’s probably not worth @tinyfaery‘s while to sue, because she wouldn’t win enough to make up for the costs and the hassle, but that doesn’t make her boss’s behavior any less illegal.

wundayatta's avatar

@Jenniehowell I’d still really appreciate a source on those 1138 benefits.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are groups working to end the “marriage bonus”, such as the Unmarried America Organization. Perhaps you could join in the fight.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@daloon: You aren’t going to get a good source on those benefits. Most of them really, really only matter if you are married (or want to be married). It’s a number you only see in gay rights stuff. It’s the number of federal rights and privileges granted to a married couple. The reason it doesn’t apply here is that being single simply is NOT the same as being a gay couple denied the right to marry.

A single person has no desire to file their taxes with their partner, have next of kin status with their partner, visit their partner in prison, get a domestic violence protection order against their partner, etc. Most of the rights are completely based in partnership.

While there are, I’m sure, things that benefit married couples over singletons, 1138 is all about equality in marriage. Not single vs. married.

Further, there is no cost associated with those things except personal cost. Taxpayers don’t have to pay for someone to be allowed to visit their partner in a hospital, but it costs the person denied the right to say goodbye to their spouse rather a lot emotionally. There is usually some material benefit to filing your taxes jointly—that’s why people do it—but I wouldn’t say that singles pay for that benefit.

wundayatta's avatar

Leslie Talbot writes in Forbes online:

Single people make up a significant portion of the workforce, so you might think their employers would make at least a token effort to keep them happy. You’d be wrong. In their zeal to appear “family friendly,” companies often overcompensate at the expense of singles, pressuring unmarried employees to travel more frequently, work more weekends and holidays, stay later during the week and refrain from taking time off during school vacation season, regardless of rank or seniority.

Not that all this extra work translates into a higher salary. A 2004 study by economists Kate Antonovics and Robert Town found that marriage increases men’s wages by as much as 27%. All told, when pension, insurance and other benefits are factored in, married workers frequently end up out-earning their single counterparts by thousands of dollars a year.

Unfair, you cry? Don’t look to the government for any redress, because they’re in on it too. Anti-discrimination laws cover race, religion, gender and age—but singles go woefully unprotected at the federal level. In fact, when it comes to singlism, the government is one of the worst offenders, waving the tax code like a magical fairy wand of approval over married couples.

@Jenniehowell writes: ”the importance of parenting does not supercede the importance of equality or the importance of teaching equality to the coming generations so I’m with @tinyfaery & @cwilbur & others who suffer at the hands of any unequal situation with regards to their constitutional rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness or to equal opportunity to succeed or fail on their own without interference.

Clearly we, as a society, value coupledom more than singledom. “Discrimination” against singles is sanctioned in our society. It makes you wonder what would happen if you had a “single’s rights” movement.

Still, I wonder what portion of singles even complain about discrimination in the workplace. Singles tend to be younger. According to the census,* only one-third of 20–34 year-olds are married, compared to at least two-thirds (or more) of those over the age of 45. It is arguable that they are hungrier, career-wise, and much more willing to work long hours. Who knows which came first—the willingness or the pressure to work longer hours. However, once a pattern becomes a pattern, that drives the expectations of employers.

This study found that a married twin make 27% more than their unmarried twin, on average. Whether this translates into an overall marriage premium, I don’t know. This article discusses some of the theoretical reasons that could explain the wage gap.

Sure there are advantages to being married. You can argue that single folks are discriminated against. However it is clear that society approves of this, and it is not clear whether there is discrimination based on singledom, or whether the differences in behavior and wages are due to other reasons.

* http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_S1201&-ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00

jca's avatar

back to what @EmpressPixie said, @Jenniehowell‘s usage of the 1138 is inaccurate, as the number (or theory) ” is for equality in marriage, not single vs married” so all would not necessarily apply to this example (tiny’sexample of a parent vs non parent).

btw i am single so my views are not prejudiceed toward singles. i am, however, a single parent (daughter’s father is deceased) so i do sympathize with others in my boat.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca your friend can only really get in trouble from her boss for working or not working. Her boss on the other hand is legally required to keep documentation of those side agreements and is required to provide a form of time tracking that will serve to prove one thing or another in court & if those tracking systems and proofs don’t exist then someone like @tinyfaery could win in court if they brought enough countering proof. In the end when the laws regarding employment equalities are broken there are generally fines not jail time so no worries for either party in that regard. LOL

@daloon the 1138 benefits are actually all paid for via various means mainly our taxes. Those listed in the 1138 are based on a review of a 1997 and 2004 government report that outlined the specific benefits afforded married couples in the United States. As @EmpressPixie stated that list is used almost 100% to fight inequalities relating to gay rights and inequality in marriage & does not completely apply to this conversation. Regardless though they are all paid for by single people (even as the gay community isolates them for marriage equality arguments) and the are not merely just hospital visit related things. In cases where it seems to be something as simple as a hospital benefit it is important to remember that the things on the 1138 list ARE PAID FOR BY ALL benefits & that is the reason I brought it up here – because someone early in the discussion was mentioning tax related benefits or lack thereof & therefore as single people do pay for these things that only married people get it did apply to THAT PORTION of the conversation (just not the whole conversation re: employees having one right over another that @tinyfaery mentioned) http://www.equalitymatters.org/equality_matters/static/full_reasons is a website you can go to to check out the benefits list.

I think from what you mentioned above as single people are the majority and not the minority there is no effort to make them happy considering those who pose the biggest discrimination related legal threat are the family folks who are in the minority at the work place. But at the same time that is the reason for particular laws that do govern equality in the workplace – though not every group that exists can get true equal rights everywhere there are places where equal rights for all do apply legally and the workplace is one of those. Interesting the mention of single rights groups (almost scary to me even as a single person). I hope that people realize in general that there are some things that just are the way they are. Single people live how they live and married people live how they live. None can change the other they can only join them.

In the end that like @EmpressPixie and @jca have both reminded us that 1138 list is not applicable to this parent vs. non parent conversation but only to the one moment in the discussion of taxes for married vs. non married being mentioned.

akmcg's avatar

Because there are so many entitled parents at your work that feel that the world must revolve around their kids…which is a huge disfavor to the kids btw. Or they use their kids as excuses, which I have seen far too many times at my last place of employment.

wundayatta's avatar

In France and Germany and Japan—places with negative birth rates, laws are becoming even more favorable to married people. Well, they help all women with children, but the majority of those are married. The state will pay for various amounts of years off to take care of the kids at home. They may even pay a cash bonus for kids.

The only reason the US population is growing is because of immigration. Without immigrants, we’d have a declining population, and we’d be considering rewarding people to have children. Given the religious nature of our society, I think those benefits would probably be tied to marriage, as well.

I think that these incentives to have children may be somewhat racist, since most people in the countries are white, and most immigrants are not. However, I suppose once in France or Germany, all women are eligible. Perhaps this draws even more immigrants?

Val123's avatar

Well, if you have a sick child, what else are you supposed to do? Especially if, as is often the case, there is no SO or family member to step in? Just leave the kid alone at home? It can’t be compared to car repairs, which can always wait and certainly not cats who can take care of themselves from the moment they’re weaned….

Although, in your example, 17 is plenty old enough to be left to tend themselves with only an occasional check in. Depending on what was wrong with them, and how severe it is. Same with a wife or a husband.

But what do you do in the case of a 6 year old?

Also, around here, single parents get clocked for having to take time off for this reason. It’s a bitch when your child is sick, no one else there to care for them, they can’t go to school….but you’re liable to lose your job or get written up if you take time off…

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