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Old 03-17-2006, 01:24 PM   #16
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I am so so lucky.

My last job I got a kidney stone and was hospitalized and while I was in the hospital my sister called to tell me my mom had a heart attack and they thought she would die. I had to leave my sick bed and fly to the other side of the country and stay with her until she recovered.

I was reprimanded when I returned to work after almost two weeks despite the fact that I worked with hundreds of people who could cover the work.

This job my brother called me at 2pm on Thursday March 2 to tell me my mom died and I left work and didn't come back until this past Monday.

My bosses thanked me for coming back so soon and offered me any time I needed to handle her estate despite the fact that I am the only full time person in this office and we only have 4 full timers and 4 part timers to cover the 3 locations, so my absence was much more felt by those who had to pick up the difference.

This job has it's drawbacks but time off for family emergencies is never an issue.
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Old 03-17-2006, 07:09 PM   #17
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Originally posted by anitram
However, how do you address the fact that oftentimes when people are away for family matters, somebody else picks up the slack?
I don't think there are any perfect solutions for this problem (any more than there are for parents and other caregivers), but for a start, perhaps some special incentives could be offered for workers who go above and beyond the usual overtime expectations for this reason--extra paid vacation days, a chance to leave early another day that week, etc. Workplaces, like families, are team settings and that requires some give-and-take that takes people's different external commitments into account. At any rate, it shouldn't be blamed on the parent or caregiver if their responsibility to attend to their children's or whoever's needs affects others' schedules in the workplace--that would be elevating the employer's right to maximum efficiency above the right of the the sick and ailing to be cared for appropriately, and that's just wrong.

corianderstem mentioned "passive-agressive" feelings on the part of childless/non-caretaker employees towards those who are--while that's perfectly normal and some of it is inevitable, I think the phrase probably also aptly sums up how parents and other caretakers feels towards the employer a lot of the time.
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Old 03-17-2006, 08:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

I don't think there are any perfect solutions for this problem (any more than there are for parents and other caregivers), but for a start, perhaps some special incentives could be offered for workers who go above and beyond the usual overtime expectations for this reason--extra paid vacation days, a chance to leave early another day that week, etc.
That's true, but in reality it just doesn't jive. How many workplaces are willing to be this accomodating? I haven't heard of any to be honest.

For example, if we're running an experiment and one person has to leave at noon because the sitter didn't pick up the kid from kindergarten, somebody conceivably has to finish up their work first, then go and Ficoll the thymus sample the she got. So you're there for at least another 3 hours and believe me, nobody will pay you for it. If people were getting compensated for those 3 hours, or allowed to accumulate extra hours and redeem them for long weekends or something, I'm sure most would jump at the opportunity. But given that most workplaces don't care, why is it that a childless person is seen as somebody who can be inconvenienced over and over again? Yes, a sick child takes precedence, but some people's kids are sick almost constantly, some people have sitter problems seemingly on a weekly basis. Where do you draw the line? The first 10 times you might sympathize and then after that, you start feeling like you're being taken advantage of.

Just want to clarify that I think the onus should be on the employer and people with children to determine how absences like this are handled. The onus should not be on a third party employee to have to constantly go out of their way for somebody and get absolutely nothing in return. To me, that's punishing a completely innocent bystander.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:13 PM   #19
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Originally posted by anitram
But given that most workplaces don't care
But this is the *real* problem here, isn't it? No one, caretaker or otherwise, ought to be seen by their employer as nothing more than a tool to maximize efficiency, with no possibility of accruing any benefits or breaks for the tradeoffs they accept out of respect for due balance between workplace and external responsibilities. I do think any movement that might emerge to lobby for this should be a joint effort between these parties to demand a fairer balance: the onus is on everybody. After all, today's parents of young children are tomorrow's empty nesters who might be prevailed upon to work late, and today's unencumbered singles never know if or when they might become tomorrow's caretakers for an ailing spouse, parent or sibling.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:28 PM   #20
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How do you balance these concerns with the childless employee. I've heard many comments from the childless over the years (not saying I agree with any of them) that complain of a system already favoring employees with children.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:47 PM   #21
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Oh, it's not like I have a battery of solutions for this all worked out--though as I said above, one possible place to start that immediately comes to mind might be to provide perks for childless folks in return for picking up the slack, analogous to the exemptions parents would get when a child needs to be attended to. Looking at the cases reviewed in this study, I think it's crazy to argue that parents are being "favored" by this system. If a colleague needed to cover my classes for a few weeks so I could be with my seriously ill child, how would I be being "favored" by that? It's not like caring for your sick child constitutes some wonderful vacation that anyone ought to envy...for sure I would rather be at work, even overtime, than have something like that happen.
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Old 03-17-2006, 10:06 PM   #22
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How do you balance these concerns with the childless employee. I've heard many comments from the childless over the years (not saying I agree with any of them) that complain of a system already favoring employees with children.
This is true.

I knew a person who, when the company experienced downsizing and had to choose between people with the same amount of seniority was told she was being let go because the other two women had a family and children. Now I thought this was possibly illegal and told her so but her response was, yeah right, this happens all the time and good luck proving it.
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Old 03-17-2006, 10:26 PM   #23
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when the company experienced downsizing and had to choose between people with the same amount of seniority was told she was being let go because the other two women had a family and children.
While this is troubling--particularly if their comparative proven worth to the company wasn't also being considered, or if their comparative financial sitations were being evaluated based on mere presumptions--I'm not sure it's directly relevant to the issues addressed by this study. Downsizing is not a typical workplace scenario. In situations like those addressed by the study, the basic issue is not who has "more right" to be on the payroll in general; it's to what degree their particular scheduling needs should be accommodated--or their sacrifices to help out fellow employees rewarded--once they are on it.
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Old 03-18-2006, 04:35 PM   #24
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Sorry if that came across as harrassing anitram...I think maybe I got a little carried away.
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Old 03-18-2006, 05:15 PM   #25
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Well I was just replying to what nbcrusader brought up - the idea that childless people feel that the system does in some way favour workers with families.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:59 AM   #26
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I was a senior scientist at a company. My boss was a madman - he'd work 88 hours in a week (not exaggerating) and bragged about it. I would work 10 hour days. Keep in mind, we did not get overtime - we were salaried. I would come in on weekends too - but often, I felt that this was a time for me to recharge. I was scolded by this boss for not putting in MORE (free) overtime on the weekends! When I complained to the director, this clueless man only stated that others worked weekends (not him though). He didn't get it.

Eventually, karma came into play. I found another job, this slave-driver boss lost his "power" (and got a job elsewhere) and the idiot director was laid off. But when my dog became ill once, I was reprimanded because I took off some time (even though I had vacation time to do it). A day after a HUGE snowstorm, he was adamant I come in to work.

Bottom line, there are people out there who only care about the company - or their personal careers. Other bosses are far more sensitive. As long as an employee doesn't routinely take a Friday afternoon off to deal with "emergency family issues", then I don't see a problem. And most workers will make up the time.

But I just wrote this to point out that it's at all levels, professional too.
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Old 03-20-2006, 01:19 AM   #27
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I am just asking this out of curiousity...
How do people feel about coworkers who don't have children but have a beloved pet who becomes ill and then that coworker asks for the same treatment as those with ill children/or other family member? Should they be treated the same?
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