Employers: This is a week for childcare compassion
When Toronto municipal workers walked off the job at midnight last night, that left 2,800 kids without daycare. There are 57 city-run daycares that are now closed, leaving hundreds of families in a bind.
Most vulnerable here are the people who rely on city daycares to mind their children while they're at work full-time, and who don't have grandparents or other family members ready to help out in a pinch. I'm thinking particularly of new immigrants, of single parents raising children without help from the other parent, and of those in low-paying service jobs where not showing up could mean immediate dismissal.
Some people will be able to get away with taking their kids to the office for a day or two. Others will start eating into precious holiday days or - if they're among the lucky few - some family emergency days.
This is the time for managers to be compassionate and throw out the rule book. Who cares if you're not meant to use your sick days for anything other than being sick yourself? (Hell, it's a rather luxurious sick-days package that has, in part, got us into this mess.) Maybe there's an empty office where a few stray kids can play computer games or watch a DVD. Perhaps some of your employees can work from home. Business won't grind to a halt, and it's just this sort of decency that builds company morale and trust, particularly in difficult economic times.
And childless eye-rollers be damned. Our kids may be sitting next to us colouring with the highlighters from our desk drawer for a few days until we figure something out. It's incredibly stressful to be torn between work and family responsibilities, particularly if you've got mouths to feed and concerns about keeping the paycheque that allows you to do so. Don't like it? Plunk on some headphones and maybe throw your extra Post-it notes our way. We might just get a few more things done while Junior uses those to decorates the filing cabinet.