Good Mom Meet Good Employee

A female marketing colleague who now runs a medium-sized business told me over lunch recently about a conversation with an administrative assistant that speaks volumes about an-all-too-common working mom fears. The assistant approached my friend to share her fear that her new boss, a man, might not support her flexible schedule. She explained that her nine-year-old daughter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The only 35-minute window when the child's medication allows her to concentrate enough to do homework is between 4-4:30 p.m. Mom has to be there to help.

"What time do you come in?" My friend asked.

"Eight a.m."

"What time do you need to leave to meet her bus?"

"3:10 pm."

"So, you're asking to leave 80 minutes early each day?"

"Yes."

My friend later told her that it would be fine for her to leave at 3:10 each day. It would take too long and cost too much to replace her. The company knew she'd make up the work at home, at night. They trusted her. This was confirmed by the boss who allowed the change in schedule.

"What kind of company would we be if we told you that keeping you is not worth letting you leave early?" said my friend.

The employee's eyes filled with tears.

What amazed me about this story is:

1) How hard it is for women to negotiate at work, especially on behalf of their children;
2) How doubly hard it is for women to negotiate with men;
3) How grateful women are when given the flexibility to be good employees and good moms.

washingtonpost.com Update: Leslie has posted a response in the comments.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 2, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Flexibility
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Comments

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couldn't she come in earlier than 8am? Then she wouldn't have a problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 7:37 AM

I think you're being a little hard on male bosses.

My female bosses -- one of whom is a mother herself, with two grown children -- gripe about the flextime option that our office has. It's clear that if they were making the rules (and they aren't, because they aren't at the top of the decision-making ladder), there would be no flextime because many moms use it to come in early and leave early to meet kids after school. And requests for part time work are regularly turned down here, though official office policy permits such arrangements. It's almost like the female bosses feel that they did their time as young women, so other young women can, too, if they want to succeed -- kids be damned.

The head honcho here is male and has his own small child. He doesn't care how or when the work gets done, as long as it's high quality and done on time. He's far more amenable to accommodating the parenting challenges faced by employees.

And yet I wouldn't want to make sweeping generalizations based on my office, because I suspect that my bosses may be different from other bosses. Some women are more accommodating; some men are more difficult.

I wish these issues wouldn't be cast as gender wars. We have enough challenges as parents without feeling pitted against the opposite sex.

Posted by: Lawyer Mom | May 2, 2006 7:51 AM

I am very grateful that I have a boss who lets me work two days from home, leave when I have a sick child or other issues, but he does this with everyone, not just me. Everyone in my department is very hardworking and we all get our job done so it's no big deal.

I do however, feel some animosity from female employees who are either older or don't have kids. I look at it this way, it's not my fault that they couldn't work at home 20 years ago and if people my daughter's age never have to work from an office, and put their kids in day care, more power to them. I'll be happy for them.

I feel that everyone makes their own way in life and when my boss said I could work from home I was ecstatic.

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 8:12 AM

"1) How hard it is for women to negotiate at work, especially on behalf of their children
2) How doubly hard it is for women to negotiate with men
3) How grateful women are when given the flexibility to be good employees and good moms"

1) How hard is it for humans to negotiate at work, especially on behalf of their children - Hello, both parents have responsibilties

2) How doubly hard it is for women to negotiate with men - nice sexist assumption.

3) How grateful humans are when given the flexibility to be good employees and good parents - again, both parents have responsibilities.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 2, 2006 8:23 AM

Yet once again, Leslie makes another stupid statement "How grateful women are when given the flexibility to be good employees and good moms".

Why the hell should women be grateful for anything they can negotiate?

EVERYONE has personal problems outside of the workplace. I don't give a HOOT about animosity from fellow workers about the "extra perks" that I have been able to negotiate from the boss. I am here to EARN A LIVING. My fellow workers are NOT MY FAMILY, however many dumb parties and showers they organize. We're not in HIGH SCHOOL anymore. Nobody cares about school spirit.

Darwin was sooo... right.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 8:46 AM

I enjoy reading these blogs very much -- this is my first time posting. I am a full time working mother of 2 under the age of 7. I agree you can't generalize who is making the decision and I have experienced both positive and negative with my current and former bosses. My worst experience was when I worked for a trade association in DC after the birth of my first child. I had accumulated enough leave to take 12 weeks off which was great. But to help my boss I worked at home during maternity leave even though it didn't count towards a regular day and was working while on leave. I thought things worked great -- I got my assignments in on time and did good work. Three days before I planned to come back I asked my boss -- she was a woman who had raised her children as a single mother with a lot of help from her family but was about 15 years older than me -- I asked her if "occasionally" I might work at home say on a friday when things were quieter(I commuted every day about 37 miles each way) but could be flexible. I just thought the commuting with a new baby would really get to me. She told me that if I wanted a job like that I should go somewhere else. So I did. Now I work in government with a schedule that allows me to take sick leave when I need to and I can work the hours I need to work around my schedule -- my husband has flexibility so it works much better. I still have a commute (not so far) but I'm glad I changed. I have a male boss too who, although has grown children, remembers the days of small children and is a big proponent of work-life balance. I can tell you that personally the men I've worked for are more amenable to balancing things than the women, who I have found seem to think that because they struggled working and raising children that everyone should. This is not a generalization but I know its my personal experience and is consistent. Would be curious as to other peoples experience!

Posted by: typical working mother | May 2, 2006 8:49 AM

I started working 7:30 - 4:30 so I can be home to get my 7 month old son by 5:30 (funny how living 10 miles from work takes an hour commute!)

I am also the only female in the office.

Even though I'm putting in the same hours (and more if you count that I'm on my laptop at home at night), I'm constantly berated that I am leaving early. It's horrible

Posted by: New Mom | May 2, 2006 8:53 AM

My boss is male and he is great at being flexible, informally. His wife works FT and he takes leave when necessary to balance the needs of work and family. He knows that treating his employees well means they'll work hard to make him look good in return.

I used to work for a single, childless woman who was horribly inflexible. She had no idea what it was like to get oneself ready along with a toddler and a baby. I was getting up 3 hours prior to my arrival at work versus her 1 hour. One minute late and you'd be reprimanded, no matter if you took work home to meet a project that was assigned at the last minute with a deadline that was unreachable otherwise. I was ever so happy when she was reassigned elsewhere.

The problem with my workplace is that there is no formal negotiation because once a situation is granted for one employee it must be granted for everyone, or so they say. So an employee cannot prove herself to be trustworthy and able to telework because there are employees who are not trusted enough to do work at home.

Also, at most workplaces there is a double standard with fathers and mothers. Where my sister works there is a widower who is constantly praised for his devotion to his children, but a divorced mother with a an inactive spouse who is pitied for the burden her children place on her. The widower is given praise as a hero while the single mother is seen as being limited by her station in life.

Posted by: Anon | May 2, 2006 8:59 AM

I do agree with the posts that say it's not fair to assume just because your boss is a man that he won't understand/allow flexible hours. During my day, I hear a lot of men talking about needing to shift hours around to accomodate school schedules and child sickness; it's not just a problem for the ladies. In my own situation, I don't have a problem talking about childcare flexibility with my male boss since he's also in the same boat -- he usually deals with ferrying his kid from place to place. Why? His schedule is more flexible than his wife's.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 2, 2006 9:00 AM

Does anyone else wonder why some of the people who post here don't just see a psychologist instead?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 9:04 AM

To Anon poster at 8:46:

"Why the hell should women be grateful for anything they can negotiate?"

What kind of negative attitude is this? People should be grateful. Appreciation goes a long way. You shouldn't take everything for granted especially when you might not have had it.

"We're not in HIGH SCHOOL anymore. Nobody cares about school spirit."

Wrong. If you work in a place filled with people with low morale, it affects you. It stresses you out and can make you bitter. And that's not how you want to feel in a place where you spend so much time. And it's not good for employers either because that's the kind of thing that pushes down productivity.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 2, 2006 9:26 AM

I agree with those who say not to generalize. In all the jobs that I have held (all professional, some management) the worst, most offensive, most inflexible boss what a 40ish divorced, childless women. I never had a problem with any of my male bosses when I needed time off, flexibility etc to accomodate my family. Yet, in all situations, I was just as hardworking and responsible and the quality of my work was always highly praised. For many years, my husband had an older female boss that gave me a really hard time about taking time off to care for a sick kid or attend a school function. He never had these problems with male bosses.
I have often felt that as women, we can be each other worst ennemies. Either we feel that somehow others have to suffer what we suffered, or we have to denigrate other women's choices if they are different from ours etc. What gives?
I am now our site's manager. I allow flextime for attending school, accomodating long commutes, taking care of kids etc. The work gets done, productivity is high and the quality of the work isexcellent. The staff is loyal and people are leaving when they move or go back to school, but not to take a similar job somewhere else.

Posted by: Working mother of 2 | May 2, 2006 9:26 AM

See a psychologist instead?
1. they cost money, which I don't have
2. I have to take time off from work to make it to the appointment.
Posting on this blog is great therapy. Not to mention free and anonymous. Also I get the help from highly successful well educated technocrats just like me, except thtat I'm a high school dropout. Even if people don't like what I post, I still like to hear what they say. It keeps my twisted, anxious mind a little more strait. In fact, if it makes you feel better, when you disagree with what I post, please mention me by my posting name, and follow it up with a clause like - you hapless, uneducated ding dong...
Ha Ha Ha. . Ding-dong is a funny word

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 2, 2006 9:36 AM

My experience with asking for flextime is exactly the opposite of what this assistant experienced. It has nothing to do with the nature of work (a lot of it is done by phone and email with people in different time zones which I could easily do from home at night). It's the old-fashioned management. I am really happy for this young woman that she got what she wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 9:43 AM

New mom,

You should try and find another job. What do you do?

Also, stand up for yourself and tell them that you work a full day like they do and that you don't have to take their harrassment. I know it's easy to say, but unless you do, you will always be the scapegoat for everything that is wrong with them.

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 9:44 AM

Newmom,

My son is 16 and I faced the same stupid criticisms when I was a new mother. Some people don't get it. If I went home at six, (working hours officially ended at 5), the question was, "So you're working half days now?"

I agree with Scarry. Please stick up for yourself. Come back with a snappy comment when they give you grief. Tell them you're more efficient, that face time is for slackers. Or whatever.

Don't let them bully you. And, in the meantime, don't be afraid to seek out other opportunities. It may feel overwhelming when you're a new mother, but you can create the environment you want, if not immediately, then eventually.

Good luck and hang in there!

Posted by: Kate | May 2, 2006 9:53 AM

to: newmom.
I was in your situation and I no longer work there, though not by choice. It was a Capitol Hill office where I was the only female with children, first one than two. The worst offenders were a guy who just got married and a single woman who proclaimed that she will never had any children. I know it's mean but I hope she will eat her words. I was "lucky" to find a job with a federal government that uses my skills. In my experience this harassment does not end but only intensifies. I think DC is different from other cities (maybe not from Wall Street but from other "normal" cities) that it attracts so many ambitious young people who are willing to work work work. I know, I was like that.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 10:13 AM

I'm lucky to work for a company that understands that people have lives outside of work and encouraging life/work balance makes for better more loyal employees. I don't understand why more companies can't see the benefit of this. My office has a very flexible attitude about scheduling. Everyone in the office, not just parents, have the freedom to schedule their own hours, within reason. One father in my office comes in early so he can leave at 3 every day, another woman is working part time while preparing for the arrival of child #2, the guy down the hall comes in late so he can go for long training rides in the morning (he's a cyclist), one man has back problems and leaves for a couple hours in the afternoon several times a week to get massages, see the chiropractor, and PT, another woman takes classes toward her masters during the day, I work 9 hour days so I can take a half day once a week and volunteer with a community organization.
I haven't seen that this hurts the company any. Projects get done, on time and under budget more often than not. When crunch time comes and we need to work long hours for a couple of days or weeks there is a lot less complaining because we know the hard work is likely to be rewarded by a day off later or a nice bonus. Most of my coworkers have been with the company for 10 - 20 years and that low turnover benefits the company in so many ways.

I'm strongly against parents being offered different working conditions or being given more slack in the office than non-parents. All that does is breed resentment or get women assigned to the "mommy track". Children are your choice and your responsibility. If you choose to have children don't expect your officemates or boss to accommodate your choice any more than you are willing to accommodate my dedication to volunteering or the guy down the halls dedication to racing. That being said I'm a strong advocate of workplace flexibility and allowing that flexibility for all lifestyle choices not just parenthood. It's hard to resent the parents in the office for leaving early to meet the school bus when you're coming in late so you can go for a bike ride, or leaving to get that massage to loosen up your back. I think flexibility for everyone will do more to solve the "Mommy Wars" that anything else, at least the ones that take place around the water cooler. I guarantee that the single childless 20-something down the hall isn't going to be making snarky comments about you leaving early to pick up the kids when he's coming in late so he can catch a morning class. And the boss isn't going to hesitate to pick you for the team because of your unusual schedule when there's almost no one in the office who works a traditional 9-5.

Posted by: cw | May 2, 2006 10:28 AM

Whatever happened to "latch-key kids"? My parents both worked full-time jobs and I learned to be self-sufficient as a result. I don't understand the parents that have to be at their child's side for every sniffle and sports practice. Save the time for a real illness and an actual sporting event. (for example)

Ms. Steiner's article is just inane. Probably the first and last time I bother to read the Wash Post.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 10:30 AM

I was with this story until the last part (1,2,3), this had nothing to do with "a woman vs. a man", this was a situation where an employee has a personal matter in their life to attend, which a man can have just as well.

Personal experience, my mother who was ill and needed medical attention consistently. I simply went to my boss, (a woman), and then HR (a man), and explained the situation and they both agreed to work with me on time adjustments. (No tears cause I knew my hard professional work they wouldn't let me go) Simply said, confidence in self is what it sounds like this person needed.

So, my point because this employee came to tears makes this story dramatic and touching, ok I'll give you that, but why is it necessary to give it the man vs. woman analogy?

As long as you keep feeding into it, it will grow.

Thank you.

Posted by: Frankey | May 2, 2006 10:31 AM

My boss and his direct supervisor and both male and incredibly nice and supportive. I come in early and leave early. I've actually mostly had male bosses, and they've always been really nice about the fact I need to leave around 4:30 (I come in around 7:30 or 8am), actually it's so quiet here at work, that I think I'm even more efficient than if I came later. I once had a female boss (but this was before I had kids), who was very passive agressive. So I don't think its fair to generalize male and female differences. You know every pregnancy, delivery, and baby is different. The worst is when there's a woman who rebounds within days after having a baby and holds it over everyone else. Like I was back at work the next week, what's wrong with you? Has anyone ever expirenced this? Also to New Mom, do you ever read Amy Joyce's column or chat transcripts? Sh'es great, and she always encourages people to work toward finding a better workplace. They are out there.

Posted by: New to DC | May 2, 2006 10:36 AM

Lets revisit the story. Did anyone care to notice that it involved an Administrative Assistant? This wasn't a professional working mother, this was a member of the often invisible part of any firm or association--The Clerical staff. I've heard many professionals say "Admins around here are a dime a dozen, if you don't like what you have, you can always find someone better"
Often times, admins, legal secretaries and other staff members CANNOT negotiate flex time simply because the job they do requires them to either punch in, be onsite, or on call in any situation. certain situations require that they use leave to compensate for whatever time they need for whatever family concerns. All the while, the professionals come and go as they please, work from home, make time for their kids, etc. And don't tell me that is the right of the professional. I've seen many fair professionals who care more about the work that is done then about where it is done. I've also seen many professionals abuse their flexible schedules on the backs of many staff members. I've experienced firms that leave little room for negotiations upon hiring. When you're a member of staff, you have to find a fit that is right for you, meaning the work environment, the person you work for and a level of comfort that will allow for negotiation of flex time.

Posted by: BaltimoretoDC Mom | May 2, 2006 10:39 AM

I returned from 3 months of maternity leave in January and was told (not something I even asked for) that I could work from home one day per week in order to help ease my transition back to work. I have a female supervisor (who has kids) and a female boss above her (who doesn't). I wasn't given a time frame as to how long this could continue but I repeatedly told my supervisor how much I appreciated it-- especially since my infant has a problem which has required physical therapy twice a week and this schedule has allowed me to attend some of her sessions and ask questions-- and once even asked her how long I would be able to do this (she said she didn't know). I basically assumed that if I stayed on top of things and was flexible (switch my day from home to a different day of the week if someone else in the office wanted to take that day off) that they'd let me continue it through the summer since that is a slow time in our office. Then suddenly two weeks ago I came into work and without any warning was told that I couldn't work from home anymore because it "isn't fair" to others at work. Let me just say that everyone in our group is allowed to work from home on an "as needed" basis-- I was just the only one who had it as part of my schedule (temporarily). This came as a real slap in the face and I felt like I was being punished for something. I even asked my supervisor if there was a problem and she said "no" and acted like I was being selfish for expecting this to continue any longer! I also have another co-worker who was on maternity leave at the same time I was but decided to come back only part-time for the first 6 months and has since extended her part-time status for another year. At this point I think they should feel lucky that I didn't decide to do the same. I'm just left wondering why they took this away from me since it seemed to be working out well. My job doesn't pay particularly well and even though I'm well-educated it doesn't offer a lot of room for promotion, so one of the main things that has kept me here is the flexibility. Without that I'm thinking it's time to look for another job!

Posted by: frustrated working mom | May 2, 2006 10:46 AM

I agree with the comment about people having other responsibilities. I had a very ill father who I was responsible for. I had to take quite a few "short" days in order to care for him. I am lucky enough to have enough leave time so I was covered since there is no way I could do my job from home (I am a nurse). As we get older many people will be faced with the same problems - men and women - employers and employees.

Posted by: Silver Spring | May 2, 2006 11:16 AM

I think everyone no matter if they have kids or not, should be able to work a flexible schedule -- I am the only one in my office with small children, but the entire office chooses the hours they want to work, as long as they put in a 40 hour week. We schedule meetings based on our schedules.
Regarding "latch key kid' comments -- my children are both under 7 so I can't really justify giving my 3 year old a key to let himself in the house. When they are older, yes. It seems as though most of the people who post here have smaller children, so its not an option for me right now. Plus its illegal here in MD to let a child under 8 stay by themselves.
The other interesting trend I'm noticing is the increase in women leaving the workforce because they are choosing to raise their children full time or just work part time. This does concerns me because I think that flexibility is so vital in order to have a balanced life. If more women keep leaving, will companies go back to the way things used to be done? Please stay!
New Mom -- we have all been there! My problem happened right after my first was born and my solution (it took a while) was to leave my environment and search for greener pastures. I also had worked on Capitol Hill -- I don't recommend it if you have children because you can't just walk out the door at 4:30 or 5. I still run into occasional issues at my current job but I handle it ok.

Posted by: typical working mother | May 2, 2006 11:20 AM

My old boss, who was a single older gentleman with no children, was very flexible when I had my second child and had to adjust my schedule to be home earlier. He retired. My new boss, a younger, married woman with two children and a nanny, gives me a hard time every day. Our IT department installed software on my personal laptop that would allow me to work from home via the internet. She says that I can't work from home. Only one person at my company with a child is allowed to work from home. The rest are single people with no children, and no minorities. I've been with this organization almost ten years with excellent performance evaluations every year.

Fairness doesn't depend on one's gender, it depends on one's attitude.

PS--Once she asked me if I had any relatives living in her area, because her nanny was leaving and she needed a new one.

Posted by: Washington DC | May 2, 2006 11:33 AM

I'm only a worker bee in the support category. I believe there are laws about hours worked according to whether you are 'exempt' or 'non-exempt.' Most support people, including admin. assistants, secretaries, mail room workers, anything but a professional, fall into the 'non-exempt' category. That means you fill in a time sheet, are paid by the hour, and any time taken off must be charged to vacation, sick leave, or leave without pay. Any hours worked over your normal weekly hours should be paid by time and a half overtime. Even if you have flex hours, you put in your required hours, say 7:30 to 4:00, or 9:30 to 6:00, whatever. Any time off is supposed to be accounted for. Even if you're 20 minutes late because of traffic, you must charge 20 minutes of vacation. Check with the Fair Labor and Wages Board, or whatever it's called.

'Exempt' means you are a professional, paid with an annual salary, can come and go as you please, but can be expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays without overtime pay. So, if you are an attorney, your annual salary is $950,000 per year, but you are an attorney 24/7. You more or less set your own schedule, but you're expected to produce billable work.

Posted by: NW DC | May 2, 2006 11:37 AM

Why is the boss in this story a man? When you make up a story, you can make the boss any gender.

Posted by: Don | May 2, 2006 11:44 AM

frustratedworkingmom "Then suddenly two weeks ago I came into work and without any warning was told that I couldn't work from home anymore because it "isn't fair" to others at work. Let me just say that everyone in our group is allowed to work from home on an "as needed" basis-- I was just the only one who had it as part of my schedule (temporarily)." - Temporarily is not forever. Apparently your time is up.

"I also have another co-worker who was on maternity leave at the same time I was but decided to come back only part-time for the first 6 months and has since extended her part-time status for another year. At this point I think they should feel lucky that I didn't decide to do the same."

You can't compare yourself to a part-timer unless you are both being paid part-time (or full-time). The part-timer seems to have worked out this arrangement, but that doesn't mean that the employer would also agree to the same for you. Maybe only one part-timer is feasible. Your "deciding" to continue part-time is not only your decision. I think that you sound pretty arrogant and full of yourself to feel so strongly that the company is lucky to have you. If you were that valuable, I'm sure your "temporary" arrangement would not be coming to an end.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 11:50 AM

There is no reason to be a jerk to frustrated working mom.

She doesn't sound arrogant she sounds normal. Employers should value their employees and give them notice like they would expect notice from th employee if their schedule is changing. geez, why so mean!

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 11:57 AM

She explained that her nine-year-old daughter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The only 35-minute window when the child's medication allows her to concentrate enough to do homework is between 4-4:30 p.m.


What? The kid can only concentrate for 30 minutes a day? What is this child doing in school if that isn't in their "concentration time".

Posted by: Doubtful | May 2, 2006 11:59 AM

First, I totally agree that it is unfair to generalize about male and female bosses. I think it is all about the individual and what their perspective and experience is; I've worked with fantastic men and women and horrible men and women. However, I think what Leslie may have been trying to point out is that, justified or not, many women are more apprehensive about approaching male bosses with family issues. I can sort of understand that, particularly, as someone else noted, when you're talking about an administrative staff person who may not feel she has the footing that someone in a professional position might, or if she is working in a field or office that is historically male-dominated or has an old-boys-club culture.

Second, Father of 4, you are a totally fascinating character and I definitely hope you keep posting here. Have you resolved the chair issue you raised a few days ago?

Posted by: Megan | May 2, 2006 12:07 PM


More power to anyone who can work out a flexible arrangement, but I don't buy the premise of this story.

If there is really, truly only *one* 30-minute window a day that this kid can do homework, then they need to see the doctor about adjusting its meds.

Sounds to me like a story the mom made up so she could get permission to flex-time around the bus arrival.

Posted by: Maria | May 2, 2006 12:09 PM

Scarry - I agree that the employer should give notice to the employee before bringing her back to the office. But, I still think that she is arrogant to believe that the company is lucky to have her. There is no one who is irreplacable - granted, some workers are harder to replace than others - but very few businesses would shut down if any one individual employee quit or died. And yes I agree that employers should show their employees that they are valuable - which her employer apparently did by allowing her to work an alternate arrangement for 4 months after a 3 month maternity leave.

You often accuse others of name-calling, but had no trouble calling me a jerk because I have a different opinion than you. Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 12:10 PM

you are right, i'm sorry, you were being helpful and nice to someone who was posting to this blog for advice. Keep up the good work. You are truly an inspiration to us all!

" think that you sound pretty arrogant and full of yourself to feel so strongly that the company is lucky to have you. If you were that valuable, I'm sure your "temporary" arrangement would not be coming to an end."

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 12:13 PM

I agree that you can't generalize. I had a female boss who was the world's worst. I also had a male boss who understood and accommodated my special needs around my child with emotional disabilities. Her child care arrangements were in ongoing flux for years, and it made life harder. This boss made it easier. He knew I got my work done. That's what mattered to him.

Posted by: Montgomery County, MD | May 2, 2006 12:14 PM

I've been in the workforce for almost 35 years & I've found women to be more supportive of employees with issues re childcare & eldercare. (I don't have any children.) Off topic perhaps but it's the single/childless workers who really cannot get a break. Everyone thinks they have nothing going on in their lives. No kids = no life. So, sorry I don't have much sympathy for these people who complain about not getting time off for their kids. I have had to cover for you far too many times.

Posted by: Arlington | May 2, 2006 12:21 PM

Leslie -

Can you do a follow-up with what the child's father had to negotiate, or if it even crossed either parent's mind to have him negotiate? The article today seems to assume that it was never an issue.

Posted by: Shuck | May 2, 2006 12:24 PM

Right on, Arlington! We childless singles are assumed to be completely at the beck and call of employers, but don't offend the parents by asking them to work overtime or on weekends. Who do they call first for weekend or overtime work? Childless singles. Who covers the work when the parents have to leave for a kid-related 'obligation' like a school play or a teacher meeting for your unruly kid. We singles have to take time off to be at home for appliance repairmen, or to take the pets to the vet in an emergency, or if the car battery dies one cold morning. Or if an elderly sick parent needs us at home. We singles have responsibilities in our lives, too.

I was once denied a vacation during the time I wanted it because the mothers in the office wanted to be home for spring break with their kids. I think that was a little unfair, to say the least. Why is my time off less valuable than theirs?

Posted by: NW DC | May 2, 2006 12:30 PM

"think that you sound pretty arrogant and full of yourself to feel so strongly that the company is lucky to have you. If you were that valuable, I'm sure your "temporary" arrangement would not be coming to an end."

Yes, I realize it was a "temporary" arrangement-- I just would have preferred something along the lines of 2 weeks notice so that I could take make the adjustment a bit more easily. As it is, I have decided to take some of my own time off so that I can continue going to physical therapy with my child once a week. The funny thing is, that whenever I take a day off and things get busy in my office, the next day when I come back I have to hear my co-workers complaining about it... yet I would have gladly been working from home if they would have let me and then they wouldn't be so busy! I really don't see how this qualifies as being arrogant... I never said I expected the "work from home" arrangement to last forever. I just think that when they gave it to me they should have said "this is for 3 months" or whatever. It's also frustrating on really slow days in the office (which is most of the summer) because I sit in my office with very little to do and wishing I could be at home!

Posted by: frustrated working mom | May 2, 2006 12:31 PM

People, unclench. Why is it that every time Leslie posts an anecdote, the whole room comes unglued over whether it has universal applicability or not? I lost count of how many posts thus far have chided Leslie about the gender generalization she made regarding the AA's trepidation at approaching her male boss...but no one seems to get that they are making their own generalization to express (or imply) that such fears are irrational. In *this* case, *this* woman was afraid her male boss wouldn't understand. Why does anyone need to marginalize that?

Re: the comment about support staff having less flexibility than professionals. They are support staff. Their job is to support the work function of the professionals. That's not a value judgment, that's a fact; a lot of work done by professionals can be done at home, while the value of support staff is entirely wrapped up in their presence at the office during business hours.

Posted by: Oh ease up | May 2, 2006 12:32 PM

This isn't a man-woman thing. This is more likely an older generation/younger generation thing, in that now flex-time is more common, and taking leave to care for kids is more accepted (amongst both men and women).

That being said, I kind of loathe maternity leave (or, I guess, parental leave, since I think dads can take this leave too). Why should someone get paid to take care of their kid, while others in the workplace pick up their slack (sometimes for months) without getting any monetary compensation? Hooray, you had a kid. Good for you. Doesn't make you worth more than people who either haven't had kids, or whose kids are grown up enough that they don't need their parents home full time.

Also, why is the woman in the story crying? That's wonderful. She's all weepy and grateful that the big strong man-boss was sensitive to her feminine needs. Aww.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 12:35 PM

to doubtful

If you have never had a child diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD, than you won't understand why s/he can only concentrate 30 minutes a day to do homework or the amount of effort involved in finding a way to help your child do well in school wit hteh help of teachers/counselors/psychologists etc.

The point wasn't the ADD/ADHD though, it was she needed to be home to care for her child.

For the person who said 'what about latch key kids' in our state, it is illegal to leave a child home if that child is under 12.

Posted by: Observer | May 2, 2006 12:45 PM

Sounded like this had a "man hating" tone to it. Personally, I would work for a man over a women every chance I get. My time under women bosses has been nothing but misery, while my male bosses don't care about punching a clock as much as they do getting the work done.

Posted by: cmac | May 2, 2006 12:51 PM

So you resent pregnant women their (in most companies non-existent) maternity leave? Do you also resent your colleagues if they have a death in the family and they have to take bereavment leave, and you have to - gasp - cover for them for a few days? Too bad aunt Sally couldn't die on your schedule.

You *can* also take maternity leave. Get pregnant, and you'll have it. It's not a benefit for some. It's a benefit for all, and it is up to you to create conditions where you will need it, or not (if you chose not to have children).

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 12:51 PM

No one is clenching here, I respect every opinion on this board except yours, what? Are you the only that get's it? Why do you feel you need to defend Leslie?

Hello, one word Blog!

And, it was written with the intent of expressing man vs. woman.

Posted by: Frankey to ease up | May 2, 2006 12:57 PM

"That being said, I kind of loathe maternity leave (or, I guess, parental leave, since I think dads can take this leave too). Why should someone get paid to take care of their kid, while others in the workplace pick up their slack (sometimes for months) without getting any monetary compensation?"

Just want to point out that for many of us, maternity/parental leave is UNPAID. For many, "maternity leave" means short term disability, which is a type of insurance that you or your company pays for to cover my c-section recovery or your stint on bedrest after back surgery, and short term disability pays (at least for me) only a fraction of my salary - not enough to even cover our bills for those weeks.

If someone worked at a company that offered paid maternity leave, whether you planned on using it or not, I'd take it as a big fat sign that that company cares enough about its employees and would hope that same caring would manifest itself in other ways (flexible hours?!) for all workers.

Posted by: nat | May 2, 2006 1:03 PM

I was talking to my husband about this blog... he's managed both men and women, though currently only men are on his team.

I asked him how does he view single women without children and women with children. His response:

One day those women without children will probably have children. Maybe they won't, but most likely, they will. He believes that when a woman under 35 declares herself childless it doesn't mean much, because she may change her mind, fall in love, meet the right man, or mabye just decide she wants a child. He also feels the same about men, so it's not biased. IT's just, he said, that he's known so many women who say they will never have kids who change their minds.

his take? It's not a bad thing. But as a company you prepare for that contingency. How? By having systems in place that allow for maternity leave, flex time, and basically a workplace that is good to parents and singles. His take on men? They should get paternity leave and the same flexibility.

His view on working long hours? "Who cares how many hours you work? If you get the job done, that's what matters. You can work as late as you want, good for you, but as a boss I don't care about how late you work. It's all about performance and results." i.e. working late is great but it won't get you bonus points if your work isn't done. Getting your work done while you work half day at the office and half day at home? Great.

This is also how his peers and other employers see it, as well.

Posted by: Husbands view | May 2, 2006 1:04 PM

2) How doubly hard it is for women to negotiate with men;

You continue to make blanket sexist stereotypical statements. Do you really think such statements further the cause of working Moms?

Posted by: NY Dad | May 2, 2006 1:06 PM

I agree that flex-benefits should be extended to all and not be reserved for those with children. However, I'm fascinated and saddened by the number of comments to the effect that when people have children, it is their sole responsibility to care for them and nobody else should be required to be understanding, etc.

If the next generation of children is not well cared for and well educated, how do you suppose our society will perpetuate itself? Who will make the money that pays into your social security, that creates the tax base that supports all the other social services that the government provides? We all suffer when we ignore the needs of the children of our nation, whether through the lack of an educated and innovative work force or an increase in crime or whatever.

No, childless workers should not have to be at the beck and call of employers in order to make up for those with children not being there. But yes, society as a whole does have an obligation to ensure that children are cared for, and finding ways to encourage flexibility for all is part of that obligation.

Posted by: Megan | May 2, 2006 1:24 PM

Meow!

I have kids and I paid people to take care of my kids when needed. Many times I made $1.00 per hour more than the babysitter. Paid maternity leave and the like didn't exist.In fact, when my first kid was born, it was LEGAL to pay men more than women for the same work. Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment were rampant in the workplace.
After 35 years in the workplace, I have seen or heard it all. Here are some BIG TURNOFFS:

Johnny One Notes
These people waste a lot of my time telling me about the same thing over and over - SOs, wedding plans, babies, buying houses, schools, MIL troubles, pets, divorces ...... Your children can't all be Einsteins. And please skip the grandchildren photos. No one cares!

Cheerleaders at Work
Love to organize baby showers, wedding showers, retirement parties, etc. Parties, parties, parties for people I don't know or don't want to know. I can figure out how to give someone a gift!

People Who Expect Special Treatment
Most employees are average. Please don't expect Special Treatment if your work is mediocre. You can be replaced VERY quickly.

We are being PAID TO WORK!!There are reasons why some people are at the top. Find out what they are!

Check your personal life at the door. It won't go anywhere while you're at work.!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:30 PM

to husbands view: Is his team hiring? He is a modern man and that's the difference. I have been in the workforce for 20 years and paid my dues as a single childless woman with no boyfriend by working insane hours. Then I got a masters degree, met a guy, and now I feel that it is somebody else's turn to pay those dues. I am smart, professional, and, frankly, don't need 8 hours in the office to get my job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:36 PM

[So you resent pregnant women their (in most companies non-existent) maternity leave? Do you also resent your colleagues if they have a death in the family and they have to take bereavment leave, and you have to - gasp - cover for them for a few days? Too bad aunt Sally couldn't die on your schedule.

You *can* also take maternity leave. Get pregnant, and you'll have it. It's not a benefit for some. It's a benefit for all, and it is up to you to create conditions where you will need it, or not (if you chose not to have children).]

First off, many people can (and do) plan pregnancies these days. There's also a nine month lead-up to it - much of that time, in office jobs, is time one can spend working. Comparing a nine month pregnancy to a sudden death is patently ridiculous. Congratulations.

Second, way to make a straw man argument. Didn't say get rid of maternity leave anywhere. Just compensate the people who have to pick up the slack when Bob or Betty takes off to take care of the new kid (and yeah, I am talking about companies that offer maternity leave - which is why I said "maternity leave" as opposed to "taking sick leave or short-term disability"). If the company can't offer direct compensation to the other employees for doing more work than usual, it's not exactly just to offer compensation to the new parent who isn't doing any work at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:41 PM

Wow. I'm glad you are part of the older generation and I know it was harder for you, but thankfully others have worked to make it different for the younger generation.

I agree that personal lives need to be checked at the door HOWEVER in our day and age, employers often expect us to take our work lives home. When employers expect us to take our work to our personal lives, they can only expect us to bring our personal lives with us to work. Also lighten up on the people at work. People who aren't happy usually perform poorly. Its in employers best interests to retain good employees if that means a few parties than deal.

As for the top, understand that a lot of people have little interest in reaching the top. They are more interested in reaching a nice middle or high-middle point, because they are working to live, pay off bills, take care of their families etc etc.

Sheesh.

I really do think it's a generational thing. The younger managers of today seem more acceptable toward flex time, probably because so many jobs can be done via technology, something they didn't have a lot of 35 years ago.

I mean you sound grumpy about progress.

Posted by: to meow | May 2, 2006 1:43 PM

To whomever wrote:

"That being said, I kind of loathe maternity leave (or, I guess, parental leave, since I think dads can take this leave too). Why should someone get paid to take care of their kid, while others in the workplace pick up their slack (sometimes for months) without getting any monetary compensation?"

I guess this person does not realize maternity leave is sick leave. It is recuperating from childbirth. Obviously the author of the above statement has never given birth! If you have a heart attack because of all that stress caused by your pent up hostility, do you deserve sick time for it? After all, I obviously lead a more pleasant life and am a more pleasant person. Perhaps I should not be tolerating sick leave benefits for miserable people who bring on their own heart attacks.

Did I make my point? Recuperating from childbirth and a heart attack are both situations with require paid leave. Both can leave a void at the office which may have to be filled by coworkers, perhaps childless/parents or pleasant/hostile. That part is irrelevant. The benefit is necessary so we don't have sick people in our office who can't heal from their injuries or illness.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:44 PM

Maybe "meow" should tell the people at work what her turn offs are and not the people on this blog.

big turn off, grouchy people!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:45 PM

"I'm fascinated and saddened by the number of comments to the effect that when people have children, it is their sole responsibility to care for them and nobody else should be required to be understanding, etc. "


"Society as a whole does have an obligation to ensure that children are cared for, and finding ways to encourage flexibility for all is part of that obligation."

This is the biggest crock of New Age baloney I've ever heard. Thanx for a big laff to share with the gang!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:45 PM

Meow, I'd love to hear from your children how your experiences and insight were beneficial to or shaped their childhood.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:48 PM

Maria,

Like I said, unless you have a kid with ADHD you can't understand, as it is...

My daughter can only do her homework between a certain window as well, due to her medicine. You can't have these kids take medicine too late or they are up til 1 a.m. You can't have them take it too early or it wears off in school and there is a 'downer' time. Her doctor and I have discussed her medicine over and over, and the only alternative is to have her complete all the homework and 'concentration intensive' chores before 4:30 or 5, depending on when she has her medicine, which she hast to take an hour before she goes to school. If she takes a second smaller dose at night, she stays up til 1 a.m.

I am not this woman, I had a professional job, and when we realized what was going on with my daughter, I talked to my boss about changing my hours. I would go in before everyone else got there *except my boss, an early riser* and leave before everyone left. Everyone understood that I came in early, and I got no grief. It did mean I couldn't really stay late, but I made the trade-off. Being home when she needed to do her work and to help her after school was more important than work, having me still as an employee was more important than not having me at all *I was an excellent performer*. They even let me stay on a salary rather than hourly basis. It was always left open for me to resume my former hours.

So no she's not making it up. I don't know who she is, but I can completely relate. The only reason I stay home now is because we no longer live in the area where I held my former job.

If I could find a job on the same professional scale as my last job, with the same or similar or flex hours, I would do it in a heartbeat, but since those are still not too common, I stay home. I dn't regret it, I don't view it as a sacrifice, but the truth is my daughter needs me home during the brief time she has to do her homework.

Believe me, we've tried doing her homework at 6, 7 and 8 at night. It's a disaster.

Do I miss my old job? Oh do I. Did anyone resent me? No. Because similar situations happened all the time there, it was equal for all employees.

Yes, boss was male. No, I had NO problem talking to him, nor did I have any concerns, I knew he would be understanding.

Posted by: Observer | May 2, 2006 1:53 PM

"Did I make my point? Recuperating from childbirth and a heart attack are both situations with require paid leave."

No, you didn't, though you did make a nice little straw man argument there. A heart attack is relatively sudden - childbirth takes nine months. One, neither you nor your company can plan for - the other, you have literally months to figure out a way to compensate the employees who pick up the slack.

Again, nowhere in that original post does it say get rid of maternity leave. Just compensate those who are doing extra work because of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 1:57 PM

I didn't get compensated when my friend had a heart stroke(thank God she is okay) or when another co-worker's mother died.

Nor do I want to be, I do what my boss gives me in the allotted time I have at work.

You should do the same thing because you never know when something is going to happen to you or someone you love. I also don't get paid extra when people go on vacation and leave extra work.

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 2:07 PM

"I didn't get compensated when my friend had a heart stroke(thank God she is okay) or when another co-worker's mother died."

I'm glad that your friend is all right, but do you not comprehend that pregnancy isn't sudden? Nobody goes to sleep one night with flat tummy and empty womb, only to wake up in labor the next morning. You can't compare something you and your company can plan for with something nine months in the making with a possible months-long recovery time (which is also different from taking a week or two vacation).

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 2:13 PM

Thank you for your explanation of the medicine schedule. What you're saying makes sense to a certain degree, but I still think it sounds unreasonable that, out of 24 hours in a day, there are exactly 30 minutes that can be used for any one purpose.

Maybe you should try a different doctor or a different medicine. Sounds like you are hostage to one way of thinking that might be limiting your possibilities.

Posted by: Maria | May 2, 2006 2:14 PM

"Society as a whole does have an obligation to ensure that children are cared for, and finding ways to encourage flexibility for all is part of that obligation."

This is the biggest crock of New Age baloney I've ever heard. Thanx for a big laff to share with the gang!


The statement above is not at all a crock. I'm a single, childless woman, and I support flexibility in working arrangements and other benefits to working parents--or to any parents. As a society, we do, indeed, need children to be healthy, well cared for, and well educated. They will be creating the future, and we need that future to be economically bright if we are to have a reasonable retirement. Moreover, we pay, as a society, a great deal more to deal with children who are not well brought up than maternity leave could ever cost us.

Posted by: THS | May 2, 2006 2:16 PM

I'll give you a true example of the management here: Sixteen years ago the senior partners were not as computer savvy as the younger people. I worked as an assistant with an older partner who got his e-mails (that new-fangled thing was up and coming then)through me. THey'd come to my computer (he didn't have one) and I'd print them out and take them to him. One morning I got the call from my sister that our father had died suddenly that morning. I shut down the computer and went home; took my alloted 2 weeks for the funeral and bereavement leave. When I returned and turned on my computer, the cantankerous old poop had gotten 2 weeks' worth of e-mails and they hadn't been printed and given to him. Needless to say, I got bawled out for not making arrangements to get his e-mails to him. He, being a senior partner, could have made such arrangements through the IT people. My immediate concern was "Daddy just died, I have to get home." See, sometimes you can't just check your life at the door and concentrate on work.

Now get back to work, people. Lunch hour is over.

Posted by: NW DC | May 2, 2006 2:20 PM

Maria,

I think it's unreasonable, too, but it's the only timeframe we've found that works. Now, we're trying to 'teach' her to work outside of that time frame. We do her reading at night and some chores at night, but it's a long process. The goal is eventually to 'train' their minds to work when they need to and have them be in control of their minds sort of 'wanderings' but the only way to do that is to have them be successful at completing tasks, then they work off of that, and try to use the same 'focus' they had during their half hour homework time. It's not that there are only 30 minutes in a 24 hour period, it's that the medicine works from the morning to the afternoon, byt the time school gets out, the medicine is wearing off, and is gone by 4:30 or 5. Some kids can take a smaller dose and be fine, others can't.

But yes, we are trying different doctors etc.

Okay so it was totally off topic, but I just wnated to get across the point that I think Leslie is talking about a women with a special needs child.

I think she should have just said 'special needs' it would have been probably better. Her examples sometimes get in the way of her point. Especially this example, heh.

Posted by: Observer | May 2, 2006 2:25 PM

observer, thank you for your post. only somebody who does not have children would say that "a mother made up this story to be home early to meet her child" We do not make stories about our children's health. I thought the observer was very calm and professional in her response more so than others.

Posted by: bethesdamom | May 2, 2006 2:38 PM

The woman in this story may not have been making a sexist assumption; she may just have been making an assumption based on previous experience.
I have a friend trying desperately to leave a PR position because her boss has informed her (after a bad flu season) "You can't take any more sick days for you or your baby." When I asked her what her HR department would say about that, she said they back up the boss -- others have run into this kind of thing too.
This is the same boss who decided it would "help department morale" to insist that the department go out for drinks, to theater events and to concerts at least one night every week. This is a department made up exclusively of women who either have small children, infants or are pregnant.

Except the boss. Apparently HIS wife looks after all those non-work-related details in his family.

Posted by: wenholdra | May 2, 2006 2:48 PM

Huh. As a 20-something single female Admin Assistant, I'm actually depressed by the comments of a few of the posters.

I don't resent the time that my co-workers spend away from the office and with their kids. Working in finance, I am asked to put in my share of time - I came in at 6:30 am today - 2hrs ahead of my normal schedule, to turn around a project on a tight deadline - and I was here until midnight last night. But I don't resent my time here - I'll be leaving early on Friday - very early , and it won't come out of my vacation time or my pay.

I look at the people I work with - men and women who come in at 7am so that they can devote their time and energy to their work - and leave at 4 or 4:30. For some, this may seem like a pressure cooker - but it's not. The people I work with understand crazy schedules - for everytime their nanny is sick or their daycare is closed and are late arranging alternate care -I'm dealing with irresponsible roomates, neurotic landlords and the like.

Posted by: Baffled | May 2, 2006 2:56 PM

She explained that her nine-year-old daughter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The only 35-minute window when the child's medication allows her to concentrate enough to do homework is between 4-4:30 p.m.


What? The kid can only concentrate for 30 minutes a day? What is this child doing in school if that isn't in their "concentration time".
-----------------------------------
This is my question! I'm a teacher and we have kids go to the school nurse for their mediciations throughout the day. This issue is about ADD and scheduling medications properly. Perhaps 3pm is the ONLY medication time...but it seems a little odd. She needs to speak to the kids doctor.

Quite honestly, if I were the boss, I don't know if I would find this particularly valid. Is it just because there is no caretaker/babysitter available for the hour or two after school, before mom gets home? Can't a trusted babysitter dispense medication?

Posted by: nokidsyet | May 2, 2006 3:07 PM

okay, so if I tell my boss that I am 4 months pregnant that gives him 6 months to plan for my "vacation" then that gives him plenty of time for him to shift assignments, hire a temp, or plan to do the work himself.

However, if one of my co-workers has a heart attack, that gives him zero time to plan, hire a temp, do it himself and it sends the whole office into panick mode.

Either way, someone else is doing the work of the person who either had a baby or had a heart attack. (some people who have these stay out just as long as the 5 weeks of disbility a mother gets)

However, from your posts you seem to think that when a woman has a baby, the boss owes whoever does her work, extra money. But not when someone has a family emergency, heart attack, etc, etc.

I'm just trying to understand the logic?

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 3:17 PM

oops 4 and 6 equal 10, sorry but you get the point.

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 3:19 PM

"However, from your posts you seem to think that when a woman has a baby, the boss owes whoever does her work, extra money. But not when someone has a family emergency, heart attack, etc, etc."

I'm not saying compensation is owed in one case but not the other. I'm saying it's ridiculous to compare one case to the other, as the heart attack, family emergency, etc. is sudden, but pregnancy and childbirth are not. Compensation for extra work due to sudden illness was never brought up by me - I was simply showing that the two cases (absence due to illness or family emergency and absence due to childbirth) are not comparable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:23 PM

I don't see a differnce. An absence is an absence regardless of whether someone had a baby or not.

I have an idea, maybe woman and men with children should start paying to work so in the event they have to take time off they will be covered. And, all single woman too, you never know when they could get the urge to multiply!

And, people who lead unhealthy lifestyles can also pay into the pot. If you smoke, eat badly, are fat, drink to much, have unprotected sex with multiple partners, can't control you anxiety (this leads to upset stomach, so I've heard), etc .

That way, almost everyone will be covered!

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 3:29 PM

Also, you have to remember that, while some workplaces only offer a few weeks' maternity leave, there are other workplaces that offer months of it, with the option to extend. I work with one person who came back two weeks after a stroke, and another who took eight months after giving birth (both mother and child were fine).

Before anyone jumps on me saying I'm just angry or whatever, I'm really not - like I've said, it's not that I think maternity leave should be done away with. It's just that when you have the chance to plan and budget someone's long absence like this, measures should be taken to compensate those who have to take over the new parent's workplace duties.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:32 PM

I don't understand what the issue of suddenness has to do with anything. You seem to be arguing that because there's ten months of lead in time (and actually, Scarry, pregnancy is typically 40 weeks, or 10 months, so you were actually right. I have no idea why we always say it is 9 months), a woman shouldn't be able to take maternity leave? Or shouldn't be paid? What is your point, and what does the un-sudden nature of birth have to do with it?

Posted by: what? | May 2, 2006 3:32 PM

"I don't see a differnce. An absence is an absence regardless of whether someone had a baby or not."

Seriously? You don't see the difference between a SUDDEN illness and something that takes, generally, NINE MONTHS to happen? Special.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:35 PM

", a woman shouldn't be able to take maternity leave?"

Actually, as I've said three times now, I don't think maternity leave should be done away with. Reading is fundamental!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:37 PM

I walk to work after getting off the Metro train and right passed a Starbucks which is 2 blocks from the office. As soon as I get to my computer, I eagerly respond to my supervisor with any outstanding issues. Then I slip out the back door and get some coffee at Starbucks, which now becomes a 4 block walk and time spend in line to boot. When I leave for the day I use the reverse trick, this time using the bathroom, then returning to my cubicle just to hit the Send button. Hey, I'm not the only one. We have flex-time here at the office too, but those people who hit the elevator button at exactly 3:30 and 15 seconds do get noticed. It seems like everybody trims the clock at one point or another and they all have a justification. The trick is to not let anybody that saw you sneak in late, let them see you sneak out early. That would be bad!
Megan,
My wife saw the great advice on how to handle the chair issue, but I caved anyway. We tried to get the best-fit chairs for the both of us yesterday, but the furnature store was closed. Hopefully they are still for sale.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 2, 2006 3:38 PM

I have sympathy for the Mom with the short window for homework. I worked part-time for years when my kids were younger to accomidate this very kind of situation.

You can't expect to get paid for full-time work if you aren't there full-time. I can go for making 80 minutes up a couple of days a week, but every night?

I'm mean - I'd want to see what the person was doing in that time.

Posted by: RoseG | May 2, 2006 3:39 PM

"No, you didn't, though you did make a nice little straw man argument there. A heart attack is relatively sudden - childbirth takes nine months. One, neither you nor your company can plan for - the other, you have literally months to figure out a way to compensate the employees who pick up the slack.

Again, nowhere in that original post does it say get rid of maternity leave. Just compensate those who are doing extra work because of it."

It is not a straw man fallacy because I did not refute your original argument based on my example. I made an analogy. Both situations are examples of situations requiring sick leave. Although pregnancy lasts 9 months, the childbirth does not. And conception can be as unplanned as a heart attack is unexpected. And an unplanned pregnancy could be compared to a heart attack linked to untreated risk factors such as smoking, untreated diabetes, stress, and obesity. Simply because the childbirth occurs approximately 9 months after conception does not negate the necessity for paid leave so the mother can recover.

One simple fact remains - companies that treat their employees well keep good, high-performing employees. Companies that mistrust employees or treat employees as expendable retain employees that tolerate such mistreatment.

Just for the record - I worked at home during my 6-week maternity leave many years ago while still drawing sick leave I had saved during my many childless years. During those childless years, I spent a 3-month period pulling double-duty when a chain-smoking coworker had a quadruple bypass and recuperated folling a heart attack. When I had to cover for my coworker, I didn't complain that he was getting special treatment. I was simply worried for his welfare, knew he needed time to heal, and knew my company needed me. Prior to my maternity leave, I prepared for my absence, completed projects, and arranged for coworkers to contact me at home via computer and telephone. I hope they, unlike some other obviously troubled individuals, did not think I was living a life of indulgence at their expense during my recuperation.

Some people seem to be concerned only for themselves, worried that others are getting special privledges they are not. Sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:41 PM

Perhaps if you'd sign your comments with some sort of name it would be easier to track them and figure out what on earth you are trying to say. Given the number of people who appear to be confused by or misinterpreting your comments, I don't think it's just my reading skills or lack thereof. Why don't you try again?

Posted by: what? | May 2, 2006 3:44 PM

"Simply because the childbirth occurs approximately 9 months after conception does not negate the necessity for paid leave so the mother can recover."

And, again, I'm not advocating getting rid of maternity leave, so you can leave that argument at the door. I have also never said anything nasty about taking time off for parental duties, so there's no need to imply I have.

Further, while conception can be unplanned, you still have time to plan afterwards. Even if you don't realize you're pregnant until the third month, you still have another six before the actual birth and inevitable leave. Comparing even a six month window to a sudden illness or injury (say, a car crash) makes no actual sense.

That's great that you worked from home on your leave. Not everyone is like you, and that's fine, but it leaves work at the office for those who didn't just have a kid.

If it can be planned for, and budgeted for, why shouldn't a company compensate those doing extra work?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 3:50 PM

To Frustrated Working Mom and Baltimore to DC Mom -- Good points about how rare flextime and family-related accomodation are for mid-level employees (and even more so the lower level your job is). At most places I know, a flexible schedule is seen as a perk handed out to high level or high performing employees -- and it is often revoked on a whim if someone complains or you get a new boss who values face time.

My hope is that by talking about these issues, we can raise employers' awareness about how valuable flexibility is to almost all employees. A division at Best Buy recently let 100% of its employees have 100% flextime -- they literally never had to come into the office unless they wanted to. Productivity increased 30%. For most companies, a degree of flexibility is free -- and to most moms, it is priceless.

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 2, 2006 3:51 PM

Dear Anonymous poster dwelling on maternity leave:

Exactly what kind of planning are you expecting the mother to do? Sure, perhaps she can finish up some projects if some are outstanding. But if there is ongoing work, someone will have to do it during her absence just like if someone had an extended absence for any other reason.

If you think someone else should be paid extra when others are out (due to their extra work burden), that's something to take up with management, not the employee taking the time.

But I still don't understand what you think the mother is supposed to be planning just because she knows she'll be out months ahead of time.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 2, 2006 4:01 PM

Someone here said that support staff needed to be present..blah blah blah. Not the case with workflow technology. It is possible to support a senior partner in a law firm without being on site.

That partner, however, needs to learn to turn the computer on. and THAT is the major problem preventing midlevel employees from working from home. Flex schedules and work from home policies are just not accepted in an IBM style work culture. People need to have that "I'm watching you" mindset.

Posted by: BaltimoreToDC Mom | May 2, 2006 4:12 PM

My M.O. at every job I've had is to spend the first 6 months demonstrating to my supervisor why they never want to loose me. Then I start molding my work environment to fit my life, while still producing the same high quantity and caliber of work. When I was single this meant taking off to go skiing and climbing when the conditions were prime. Now it means leaving early 2 days a week to pick the kids up from day care and make dinner, or staying home to deal with a sick kid (though I'll still sneak off to play on occasion). With previous employers this has meant that I've had more flexibility than my coworkers, but I'd argue that it wasn't "special treatment" any more than someone else's higher salary or higher bonus. When employers have balked I've quit and found new jobs. The Bottom line is if your job doesn't work for you, you need to get a new job. I'm not saying be irresponsible and just quit (though when I was young and single I'd keep a month's pay in savings so I could do just that), but please realize that it's just not worth pouring your heart and sole into any job that doesn't work for you
It seems like every time I pick up a business rag there's at least one article providing advice on how to retain good employees. Some have better ideas than others, but I've yet to see one mention allowing employees who earned it as much flexibility as their job will allow. This is something that costs the employer nothing and goes a long way toward improving morale and loyalty. My current employer seems to get this and was pretty accommodating from the start. We have a 10-2 policy (start any time before 10 leave anytime after 2 just put in your hours) along with the option of a compressed workweek (work 10 hour days take one day off, work nine hour days take one half day or one day off every other week) for everyone whose job description doesn't require him or her to be on site at a particular time. Telecommuting is also an option. As a result I've been here for 6 years, have turned down job offers for more money, and am still one of the "new guys".

Posted by: SeattleDad | May 2, 2006 4:15 PM

Okay, here are my points. Hopefully I can be a bit more cogent than I have been.

1. Nothing wrong with the concept of maternity/parental leave.
2. However, it is something that both employee and employer see coming a mile away, unlike car crashes, family emergenices, or health emergencies.
3. If the person taking leave plans to work from home, fine. But not everyone does that, which is also fine (who wants to work with their newborn right in front of them?). Additionally, not everyone actually can work from home, so working from home might not be an option.
4. If the person taking leave doesn't/can't work, the rest of the work is going to be spread out amongst the other employees.

Which brings me to this: birth can be forseen, and the employers can plan for it - including budgeting in some form of compensation for workers who might find themselves doing 10% or 20% or however much more work than normal due to a forseeable, possibly long-term absence. Since that is the case, it seems unjust to have those workers take on the extra workload without some kind of compensation.

Posted by: Anonymous Poster | May 2, 2006 4:16 PM

About maternity leave:

Okay, lets face it. When a woman is pregnant, she needs time off. No, it's not the same as an illness, but yes she still needs to recover. It's the fact that so many women are in the workplace that maternity leave exists. It's the fact that more and more fathers want to stay home with the little screaming dolls as well that paternity leave is now becoming more popular.

Can she plan? There are things she can plan... not taking on a major assignment four weeks before she is due, for instance. Having any information anyone might possibly need available.

Working while on maternity leave? I don't think so. I mean sure if you want, but why? You're not getting paid your full salary. In fact, you're getting paid by your insurance company. The same insurance you pay into every month unless your company is SUPER generous and/or you have an HMO.

The thing is, the whole thing about maternity leave is that its the realization on the part of the govt/employers/corporate america, *no matter how begrudgingly* that many many women (i won't say the majority, I don't have any stats) will get pregnant and have a child at some point in her life, and that becoming pregnant should not endanger her ability to return to work in the same or similar position *I think that's the wording, aren't there any HR people that can clarify this?* as before she became pregnant.

I believe it's up to a year *my boss cited this to me at one point, saying if I return to work within a year blah blah or maybe it was just their policy, but I swear he said it was law as long as I worked there.*

Anyhow, back to planning: Plan not to take on major projects, plan to finish the projects you have, plan to ensure everyone is up to speed on what you've done, and plan for a date to come back. As for the company, well, HEY they can plan to, they know you are going to be gone for x amount of time. They can plan projects around you, train people, etc etc and then plan for your return.

Plan to work during maternity leave? Only if the company is paying you as well as the insurance company, which I believe is not allowed.

Posted by: Observer | May 2, 2006 4:25 PM


That is great in theory. Won't happen in practice, but is great in theory.

Every time someone is out, the rest of the people taking that work or projects gets a bit of a bonus, man that would be nice.

Posted by: to anonymous poster | May 2, 2006 4:27 PM

Anonymous Poster,

Hey, I get it now! And I actually think your point is not bad. When a company knows it will be short staffed it should make plans to bring in temps or somehow compensate people who's responsibilities will increase, perhaps through comp time or bonuses or whatever. My only concern is that increasing the cost of maternity leave to a company might make it more difficult for women to take maternity leave; I'm not sure how best to get around that. Also, it seems that in some industries this wouldn't be hard to institute for all leaves - in fields like consulting or the law, where everyone keeps track of their hours, wouldn't having some sort of bonus or comp time system based on billed hours have much the same effect? If you had to work 10 extra hours one week because someone was out for whatever reason, it would be reflected in your bonus or comp time. This might take some of the pressure off maternity leave specifically.

Posted by: what? | May 2, 2006 4:30 PM

What was so hard about her negotiation? It sounds like she asked and they said yes. Done deal.

Posted by: Neal | May 2, 2006 4:34 PM

"Seriously? You don't see the difference between a SUDDEN illness and something that takes, generally, NINE MONTHS to happen? Special"

Yes, I am special because I can see flaws in your argument! It doesn't matter why someone is out-they are out!

Which means someone else has to do their work. It's really quite simple, I just think you are fixated on the fact that working parents get maternity leave and other people don't.

If it makes you feel any better after I had my daughter, i got pancreatitis and almost died. So I wasn't really on maternity leave for very long, I was on disability. Now, since I wasn't on maternity leave, see above, does that make it any different. Should my co-workers not have been compensated?

I mean after all it was unexpected. There is no difference.

Posted by: Scarry | May 2, 2006 4:40 PM

To "to anonymous poster" and "what?": never said it would be easy to implement. Just that the fact that so many people take it without question is a bit baffling, and that it's not quite fair to ask employees to take on what can be quite a lot of extra work for quite some time without some sort of compensation.

To Neal: I think the point of the story wasn't that it was a tough negotiation, but that the woman was expecting it to be tough.

FWIW, I have a (young, maybe mid-30s) male boss, and he's very cool about family leave. I really think, like some other posters, that it's an older/younger issue rather than a male/female issue. The younger a manager is, the more likely s/he is to have been brought up with some sense of equality between the genders, two-income households and single-parent households, so it's easier for them to say, "You need time for your family? Must be tough - okay, we'll work something out."

Posted by: Anonymous Poster | May 2, 2006 4:45 PM

I am not a parent, but I do work a compressed schedule to take one day off every other week off to volunteer at a regional not-for-profit, community based educational center. That equates to 26 days/year I volunteer at 10 hours/day.

I too have to negotiate with my managers and clients to work this schedule.

I have had both male and female managers and clients, and all have been supportive of my schedule to date.

I find that being up front about it is the best approach, and I make it clear my volunteer time is very important to me.

Posted by: Another point of view | May 2, 2006 5:00 PM

I like anotherpointofview's comments. Companies think they own people, not the other way around.

You need a life. Even if you don't have kids, you have that life, and maybe other relatives or some other people (charities, etc.) you care about.

Posted by: ladycheckitout | May 2, 2006 5:12 PM

You don't always have a lot of time to plan for maternity leave. My baby was born at 31 weeks gestation (in other words, I was 7.5 months pregnant and the baby was over 2 months early.)

This was before we had a chance to work out the plan for covering my caseload while I was gone. Some people worked extra hours at first (and got to flex their schedules to take equal time off in exchange) and then someone new was hired to completely take over my schedule.

Posted by: mom of a preemie | May 2, 2006 5:25 PM

"To "to anonymous poster" and "what?": never said it would be easy to implement"

Aw, come on, Anonymous Poster, seems kind of like a cop out to refuse to discuss the meat of your idea now that you've finally gotten it across. Especially after having basically called us all morons.

Thinking about it more, it seems to me there's a fair argument that the people who pick up the slack already are compensated in the form of higher salaries, promotions etc. There have been many posts in response to other columns saying that women who want flexibility or take time off are going to be paid less and not rise as fast, that's the price we pay for having balance. If those arguments hold, then the people who are not getting flexibility or taking maternity leave are already compensated because they get raises and promotions when the mom doesn't.

Posted by: what? | May 2, 2006 5:33 PM

My supervisor *did* hire a temp when she was hit with the double whammy of two department pregancies with due dates six weeks apart. She normally has six full timers to staff a public service desk, but our combined maternity/paternity leave left the schedule stretched too thin. As for extra work? I did some for him when he was at home for a month with his daughter, and he did some for me when I was at home with mine. We were the only ones in the department with kids, and no one else was required to do anything extra, with the exception of our supervisor training the temp--not a negligible task, to be sure, but an investment of a few hours for coverage for three months.

Posted by: niner | May 2, 2006 9:05 PM

I totally agree with CW. I have been a single parent for 10 years. I was in the military stationed overseas. I worked nights, weekends, and holidays. It was my job and I did it. My son was fine. When did it become the responsibility of childless coworkers to pick up the slack for people with children? Workplace flexibility is great but it needs to be extended to everyone equally regardless of family situation. The alternative is that you get bitter colleagues who then become supervisors who are unflexible and resentful of people with families. This is a cycle. A lot of people in the United States have this amazing sense of entitlement. It constantly amazes me.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2006 9:47 PM

"Aw, come on, Anonymous Poster, seems kind of like a cop out to refuse to discuss the meat of your idea now that you've finally gotten it across. Especially after having basically called us all morons."

When did I call anyone a moron? Besides a snide remark to Scarry, who seemed to be implying that she couldn't tell the difference between something a company can plan for and something that a company cannot plan for, I never implied or said anyone was a moron. I've focused my attacks on arguments, not people, for a reason.

On the other hand, some folks have implied I'm selfish, that I hate maternity leave (even though I'd stated explicitly more than once that, no, I don't), and that I'm jealous of people who can take maternity leave. So, you know, keep wrongly thinking I've called others morons if you like, that's your prerogative, but please don't be blind to the fact that there are many people here who can't tell the difference between attacking the argument and attacking the individual.

"There have been many posts in response to other columns saying that women who want flexibility or take time off are going to be paid less and not rise as fast, that's the price we pay for having balance. If those arguments hold, then the people who are not getting flexibility or taking maternity leave are already compensated because they get raises and promotions when the mom doesn't."

Except the problem is that there is the assumption that women, in general, will be taking time off at some point in their careers for their family - so women might get lower salaries than men because their employers assume that a female employee will inevitably work less hours per week than a male employee. So, no, I don't think that the employees who pick up the slack are uniformly getting compensated with raises and promotions. I think posters in this blog have previously mentioned being stuck on the "mommy track" even when they have no intentions of being moms while working where they're working. That sort of thing happens all the time, and it's one of the arguments used to explain the wage gap between genders. *Maybe* men get those compensations in the long run, but, judging by the wage gap we see between men and women, I sincerely doubt that other women see that kind of compensation.

And for what it's worth, Scarry, I haven't been talking about compensation for extra work due to a coworker's illness because the rest of this blog seems to be about balancing raising kids and working full-time, not working full-time and dealing with coworkers' health. But if it makes you feel better, I don't see why people shouldn't be compensated for *any* long-term extra work they have to take on, if their company can afford it. I've just been trying to stick vaguely close to some semblance of a topic, that's all.

Posted by: Anonymous Poster | May 2, 2006 10:45 PM

"Besides a snide remark to Scarry"

Don't worry, you didn't hurt my feelings. And, I can tell the difference between a planned event and an unplanned one.

However, when it comes down to work whether you planned to have a "child" or whether you planned to have "plastic surgery" you being gone is still you being gone.

My point was that it doesn't matter why you are taking off, if you are off. And, by the way, you can't target maternity leave and not expect people to bring up the fact that many, many times people who take maternity leave, cover for people who are off for other reasons.

And, yes, you did imply, I was stupid with your "special" comment. Like, I said before, it didn't bother me.

Posted by: Scarry | May 3, 2006 7:20 AM

Anonymous Poster,

Good point about the mommy track applying to women generally and not just moms who ask for flexible options.

But for the record, in response to my first post trying to clarify your position, you said I misunderstood you and then wrote "Reading is fundamental," which I took as humorous, but between that and calling Scarry "special"(also humorous) you did seem to be implying a general lack of intelligence in those who questioned you in a good spirited sort of way.

Posted by: what? | May 3, 2006 11:02 AM

"Also, you have to remember that, while some workplaces only offer a few weeks' maternity leave, there are other workplaces that offer months of it, with the option to extend."

Extended, maternity leave? What companies or other worlds offer this? If you are talking about extended leave, that's FMLA, which is also gauranted to anyone with a family problem. Which could mean you.

Posted by: ????????? | May 3, 2006 8:12 PM

Here's the reality in America today. As a rule, there is NO financial security for married women. This is how I see it. If you are lucky enough to be able to be at home when your children are under the age of 5 or 6, you absolutely should do that. But.....once your children are in school all day, you need to sit down and ask yourself this one question: What is going to happen to me if 5, 10, 20 years down the road, something happens to my husband. If you know you are going to get a trust fund from granny or daddy dearest, that's great! Sit back and enjoy raising your children.

But the reality for most American women is this! THEY NEED TO WORK! Maybe not while their children are babies and toddlers but some time down the road, they will have to go out and work! Most of those stay at home mothers will eventually have to go out and get a paying job! I'm sorry. But I truly don't envy those stay at home Moms. Because their husbands have total power over them, he throws all the crap onto her. She ends up the early years of her childrens lives doing everything and once the children are in school all day, her husband kicks her out the door and tells her to go back to work!

I work with women who sat at home for 15 or 20 years, being a full time maid, nanny, housekeeper and cook and then their husbands walked out on them!

Posted by: Nancy from Alexandria | May 4, 2006 8:18 AM

Hi I am a dad and do nothing but work and kick back on the couch, sipping a beer, eating chips, while watching my favorite sports. I am certainly glad that you gave all the credit to women, because we cavemen don't and can't do anything to sacrifice for our families. We are mere donors.

Thank you for enlightening me. For a minute there I thought we were moving toward a progressive society where parents are judged for the quality of the love and care they give their kids....not their gender. Thank you for reinforcing our roles and stereotypes.

JP

Posted by: JP | May 4, 2006 1:38 PM

The issue about having to be home to help a kid with ADHD do their homework is that when they take stimulants, they are pretty much worn off by the end of the day. Loss of executive function often accompanies ADHD, so homework is tough. As their ability to concentrate goes down with every hour, this is a hassle for eceryone. You are sometimes in trouble if you give them another dose (to increase concentraion) because then they are so stimulated, they can't sleep at night.

Posted by: ADHDMom | May 5, 2006 10:47 AM

Amen to Nancy from Alexandria - I never understood what SAHM's planned to do once their kids moved out, particularly if they lost their husbands through death or divorce. I think all new moms would love to stay home and play with their kids, but the reality is that they eventually grow up, and you need to have something in your life when they do.

I do think it's possible in almost any line of work (with some obvious exceptions... law enforcement leaps to mind), you can find a family-friendly workplace if you look hard enough. I'm lucky enough that I had the opportunity to work part-time for a while when I returned from (a fairly generous) maternity leave. Actually, when I eventually went to working full-time (for my own reasons), my boss (a man) said "but what about the baby?" It's really more about the culture of the workplace - not the actual job - that makes this flexibility possible. And in this area (DC), those workplaces are there... ask around, and you'll find them.

Posted by: Jen | May 5, 2006 12:13 PM

Just wanted to make a couple more comments. Technically pregnancy is a 9 month time frame. But, I delivered both my children a month early so in a way it can be sudden. My sister delivered her baby at 28 weeks so that was totally unexpected -- there were lots of complications as well. Maternity leave isn't exactly sitting around popping bon bons watching Oprah all the time (well ok when I had no energy I watched Oprah to help me sleep). You operate on little to no sleep for weeks and for those of you who haven't experienced child birth, you just had a baby the size of a watermelon come out of you, so you need to recover from that. Many of us are back at work after at least 6 weeks -- there is a big recovery time after having a baby -- I delivered early and then worked from home starting after 3 weeks out of financial need. If there are complications from pregnancy it adds a lot of other issues.
So I guess my point is that coworkers should support each other if they need time off for whatever reason -- we do it all the time in my office. Some people have planned surgeries and are off for 6 weeks. Others are caring for elderly parents. And from the single person's perspective, my sister is single, childless and was working 12-14 hours a day. She never complained about the people who took maternity leave, she just complained about how much time she devoted to her job so she quit her high stress New York job after 20 years and is moving to a small town in New England to make a fresh start (and work less hours). So if you don't like your work environment, find one that suits your needs as an individual -- focus on what is best for you!

Posted by: typical working mother | May 5, 2006 3:41 PM

My best bosses have mostly been women, but a couple of men were ok.

Generalizations suck.

Posted by: billofright | May 10, 2006 2:16 PM

I've worked in environments where the people with children get to take the time off, putting more and more work on those of us without children. There DOES need to be equity! Or, at least acknowledgement of the realities of the situation. If someone has child rearing issues and works 1/2 time as a result, she should be paid for 1/2 time, not pretend to be full time!

At my last Federal job, one woman had 2 sons, one with specific difficulties, came in 10:30 to 11 each day and was usually gone by 2. For those of us that came in at 7 and worked (in the office) past 6 usually, taking work home often at the computer until 10,11,12, and even the wee hours!, this was offensive. Our boss was in a state 2000 miles away. One summer she had child-care difficulties and wasn't even seen in the office once for 4-6 weeks! So, she's paid full time and barely works, and others sitting beside her (if she would show up) are working 60-70 hours a week and paid less??? It was very frustrating to work 60 hours. Another thing is that she played her minority status to the max.

At the same time, I had elderly, aging parents hundreds of miles away and had to BEG for an AWS for 10 weeks (the last 10 weeks of one parents' life) so I could spend 3-day weekends with them to help them stay in their own home.) It was frowned up. Family care is -- FAMILY CARE! My parents were just as needy at that time as other's children.

A sad commentary. I just wish I'd had the same sympathies and flexibility during those last difficult months of my parents' lives.

A Federal Employee

Posted by: Lydia | May 12, 2006 10:59 AM

I've worked in environments where the people with children get to take the time off, putting more and more work on those of us without children. There DOES need to be equity! Or, at least acknowledgement of the realities of the situation. If someone has child rearing issues and works 1/2 time as a result, she should be paid for 1/2 time, not pretend to be full time!

At my last Federal job, one woman had 2 sons, one with specific difficulties, came in 10:30 to 11 each day and was usually gone by 2. For those of us that came in at 7 and worked (in the office) past 6 usually, taking work home often at the computer until 10,11,12, and even the wee hours!, this was offensive. Our boss was in a state 2000 miles away. One summer she had child-care difficulties and wasn't even seen in the office once for 4-6 weeks! So, she's paid full time and barely works, and others sitting beside her (if she would show up) are working 60-70 hours a week and paid less??? It was very frustrating to work 60 hours. Another thing is that she played her minority status to the max.

At the same time, I had elderly, aging parents hundreds of miles away and had to BEG for an AWS for 10 weeks (the last 10 weeks of one parents' life) so I could spend 3-day weekends with them to help them stay in their own home.) It was frowned up. Family care is -- FAMILY CARE! My parents were just as needy at that time as other's children.

A sad commentary. I just wish I'd had the same sympathies and flexibility during those last difficult months of my parents' lives.

A Federal Employee

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