Monday 12 February 2007

Flexible working for all

Where is this woman so I can shake her hand? Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything particularly against parents or carers (but I'm mostly thinking of parents here), but they are not the only people who have non-work commitments and the fact that they have produced a child does not somehow make them superior to non-parent co-workers, who also have the right to a life outside of work.

I understand that a sick child who cannot go to nursery cannot be left at home alone and that parents of school-aged children are restricted in when they can take holiday leave. I understand all this, but you parents should not assume that your ability to procreate means that you can always rely on your childless colleagues to stay late and finish the key report for the boss while you slip away to pick the kids up. Because your childless colleagues deserve to go home early once in a while too.

Of course, in France and in many other countries I'm sure, being a parent and especially being a mother means you get overlooked for pay rises and promotions. This is the revenge of the non-parents, I suppose. Longer hours, being relied upon to sort out the last minute emergencies at 7pm, last in the line for holiday choice ... but a raise and a promotion!

I suppose my point is that we all make (or are subjected to) choices. Some people choose to be parents, and yes, employers should be sympathetic to their family emergencies. Some people choose not be parents (or, very sadly, biology makes that choice for them), and they too should be allowed a decent work-life balance.

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