Workplace Wars: how Much Should I Be Required to Meet the Needs of Your Children?

Johnny’s mom leaves work early to coach Johnny’s soccer team; Katie’s dad leaves work early to attend Katie’s kin- dergarten graduation—while other, childless (or, alternatively, childfree) workers stay late to pick up the slack. Johnny’s mom and Katie’s dad both receive, as part of their benefit pack- ages, health insurance for Johnny and Katie, as well as the opportunity to contribute to a tax-free child-care account— benefits not available to colleagues without children. While many applaud such company efforts to assist working parents, struggling under a dual burden of employment and parent- hood, recently a chorus of voices has been raised to challenge “family-friendly” policies, charging that they are friendly to families at the expense of unfairness to fellow workers without children.

Are the special needs of parents ones we should be seeking to meet? If so, who is this “we”—the government, employers, fellow workers? What policies in the workplace are most fair to parents and non-parents alike?




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