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Are Working Parents Bigger Slackers Than 'Childless' Workers?

Or should people just mind their own business? A recent study by a North Carolina company found that, with or without children, workers should probably just worry about their own work performance, for a change.

equal pay for equal work

(Photo Credit: Malte Sörensen/Flickr)

Workplace Options, an employee support services provider, recently compiled data from a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling that compared work performance levels of employees with children who participate in school-related activities, and those without children. The study, which surveyed 502 working Americans, found that 92 percent of working parents felt that their children's extracurricular school-related activities have no effect on their productivity. This may be partly due to the fact that 66 percent of surveyed participants utilize their PTO (paid time off) for their children's activities and not on-the-clock hours. If working parents aren't abusing their work hours, then what's all the fuss about?

According to Elinor Burkett, author of Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless, childless workers are experiencing discrimination in the workplace and having to pull double-duty to cover working parents when they leave for child-related activities. Burkett, a childless woman (by choice), feels it's unfair that working parents are given special treatment and leniency by their employers, while workers without children are left to pick up the slack of their often absent colleagues.

Burkett argues, "But why am I expected to do more because someone else chose to do too much? Every time I hear that phrase, 'It takes a village,' I want to scream. A village that diminishes my rights is not a village I want to live in."

Apparently, a person's choice to have a child seems as casual and insignificant as taking up a new hobby, according to Burkett’s standpoint.

In the opposing corner, there is Kay Hymowitz, who fought back against Burkett's stance by arguing in her article for Commentary magazine:

"Burkett is unconvincing, for one thing, in her effort to portray a simmering class divide in the workplace. After all, it is not just the childless who fill in when a parent takes time off from work -- colleagues with grown children or with less urgent family concerns carry the load as well. Nor is it true, as Burkett asserts, that girls are now being taught 'that women cannot be happy or fulfilled without children.' To the contrary, the clear message being communicated to girls today is that they should set their sights on a high-powered career; marriage and motherhood are, at best, an afterthought."

Is there right or wrong here, or is this a battle that will be fought until the end of time? For now, it's best for employees, with and without children, to stop pointing fingers at each other, because that only worsens the problem. We are all in this together, so let's start acting like it.

For an in-depth discussion of both sides of this argument, read this article.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you agree that childless parents get the short end of the stick in the workplace? Share your thoughts with out community on Twitter or in the comment section below.

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