Sunday, February 11, 2007

A "Single" Rant About Work

Today, I thought I'd write about a work-related peeve. And from what I've read online, this is a common peeve of people in all kinds of jobs and not at all peculiar to my workplace.

I've noticed some ways in which unmarried workers without minor children at home are treated differently from those who are married and/or with small kids. As one single worker put it:

"It's the single people working long hours on the holidays, the worst hours on the weekends, and we are always the first ones called up to work overtime or relocate. This absolutely outrages me!"

In other words, if you're not married or taking care of kids, it is assumed you have no life worth considering and that you are always available to work at any time; that we are "married" to our jobs.

Depending upon the company, some typical benefits available to parents are:
  • flexible schedules, allowing time to be missed for children's activities or illnesses with no loss of pay
  • no penalty for having the workday disrupted by children's needs
  • parental leave
  • exemption from working overtime, weekends, or holidays
  • priority assignment for shift work
  • working from home to save on childcare expenses
  • on-site childcare or assistance with childcare expenses
  • subsidies or fully paid insurance coverage for dependents.

And who do you think is expected to pick up the slack so that parents can have these kinds of benefits. Yep, you guessed it. Unmarried, childless people!

Don't get me wrong. I think it's a good trend that parents should be able to get such benefits. They shouldn't have to make their families take a back seat to their jobs. But this is only a halfway measure. Those of us who neither married nor currently raising kids have lives we value as well and we shouldn't be expected to be the workplace martyrs and take up all the slack that makes those benefits possible for married people and parents.

I hadn't really given this issue a lot of thought until the other day when I overheard the boss asking a married coworker whether he would like to have Valentine's Day off. Because I am not legally married, I was not given this option, never mind the fact that I could easily spend the entire 24 hours of Valentine's Day going from one woman's house to the next, if I were so inclined.

And my son isn't a child, so of course, I shouldn't need Father's Day off, either. And why wouldn't I want to work late on Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve? It's not as if I have a family and have any need to be go home early or on time.(*heavy sarcasm*) You get the picture. It's assumed that if you're single, that you're always available and don't have anything else better to do.

In my case, nothing could be further from the truth. And in every single person's case, it's not the employer's place to decide whose off time is more valuable.


No comments: