Sunday, September 02, 2012

NYTimes takes up debate: should parents (and family caregivers) get more paid time-off at the expense of other workers?

Hannah Seligson greets the print customer of the New York Times Sunday Business with the banner article, “When the work-life scales are unequal: flexible hours can engender resentment in the office”. Online, the discussion continues in the “Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting” blog with “In flex-work debates (KJ Dell’Antonia) , parents have unique position”, link (leading to article) here

While the largest and most progressive employers do make a real effort to allow all employees to use flex-time policies in different ways, the practical reality is that need is going to trump.  Parents with children, or people with eldercare responsibility, are going to take more time, and sometimes others will take more of the slack without compensation.  That seems to be Dell’Antonia’s position (but not Seligson’s).

In my case, in October of 1993 I worked an entire weekend finishing end-of-month with no compensation (and no comp time) when the pregnant woman usually assigned to the work had to take off.  But I did get a larger raise than I would have otherwise received next January.  The compound interest value over the rest of my career there (or the cost to my employer, depending on how you look at it) was probably over $10000 total. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is almost entirely irrelevant here because the time-off is uncompensated.

I do recall an article about the "childless worker" issue in the Wall Street Journal back in May, 1997, when a single female lawyer complained she got stuck with all the overtime of her married-with-children colleagues, to no avail. 

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