Employees and Child Care Issues

Posted on October 27, 2010 by - Also by this author

It seems like every week someone has to be off because of an issue involving one of their children. That is the risk we take when hiring people with children.
I often swore that I would never hire anyone with children again. Okay, I know that’s against the law and considered discrimination, so before you bombard me with hate mail, I would never actually do that, although I felt that way recently.
And don’t misunderstand me about my children, either. I have raised four children that all grew to adults. Along the way, we had the measles, the mumps, chicken pox, the common cold and an occasional emergency dash to the school to pickup an ill or injured child. I love kids and I think there is no more important job to hold than being a parent. As a parent, you are in charge and responsible for the lives of your children. Part of that responsibility means holding a job to put a roof over the child’s head and food in the child’s belly. That means you also have to be a good employee to keep the job and provide for your children. It is a vicious circle for sure.
I have always had great pride in the fact that we encourage parents to attend Christmas plays or shows that occur during work hours so they can watch their child perform and support the child. We don’t deduct any time from an employee’s pay for attendance at a school function. This even includes time off to attend a field trip with a child. But at what point does the whole parental thing become out of balance and unfair to not only the company but to other employees that might not have kids or might be done raising their kids? They don’t get the same time off with pay, and the amount of hours an employee with kids might take off during a year can vary according to the number of kids they have and their level of participation in sports events, musical events or other academic events.
While it might be illegal to ask an employee during an interview if he or she has children, we all have our sneaky ways of getting it out of them. I distinctly remember a young lady saying during an interview that there were numerous grandparents between she and her spouse and someone would always be available to watch her children. Childcare would never be an issue. But even the best intentions can change over time. She is now a single parent and one of her two young children has started school. That requires time off each day to pick up the kid from school. What are you gonna do?
I’d be interested in hearing your input on how you handle such situations.

— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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