Thursday, June 11, 2015

Flip side of paid parental leave argument gets shoved out of sight. but a few articles take it up

In the past two years, there have been published some articles that present the flip-side of the paid parental leave issue.
In March 2014 Jena McGregor wrote “Single, childless, and want work-life balance? How taboo”.  The focus is more on companies that voluntarily offer paid family leave but won’t offer anything comparable to people without families.  The link is hereThe overall advice of the article is to base leave policies on being able to get the job done.  But that applies more to salaried people doing development work, not to work that is transaction oriented.  Salaried people, when they take over someone else’s work, don’t get paid for it.  But hourly people do (and will get overtime if required by law).

 An article in the British Mail by Polly Dunbar (paid maternity leave is required in Britain), July 28, 2013, asks bluntly and with a sense of confrontation,  “Why should childless women like us do longer hours to cover for working mothers?” link here. She writes, “Indeed, expecting the childfree to pick up the slack is not just an entrenched part of workplace culture, but tacitly supported by the law” (in Britain).  The article suggests that this is a much bigger problem for childless women than childless men.
In the past, this affect the gay community disproportionately, in that it was less likely to be raising children. But gay marriage and public support for gay parenting can change that.
Indeed, I felt some resentment.  Should I sacrifice to support someone else’s sexual intercourse when it can’t be reciprocated?  On the other hand, I know the “living in a community” argument. With practically all social animals other than man, non-procreating adults are expected to help support the alpha members who do reproduce.
Another good question would be, should paid family leave be expected to care for parents?  It might make sense in states that have filial responsibility laws.
What seems so unacceptable is sweeping this under the rug and not facing it squarely.  There is no logical way to be “fair” to everyone and appeal to natural sympathy for mothers, often expressed in many one-sided political appeals and ads. 
I suggested in Chapter 5 of my first DADT book that paid benefits (requiring sacrifices from others) entail when there is actual responsibility for another person, whether a child (natural or adopted), or a parent.  It needs to be out in the open.  I even accepted the idea of a slightly shorter workweek when there is a family responsibility.

There’s another flip side, when there are downsizings and layoffs.  An “unencumbered” single person might be demanding less salary and lowball his or her coworkers and be more likely to be kept on.

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