Snow: another reason for small business not to employ mothers?

(135 Posts)
Zealey Mon 21-Jan-13 18:30:47

OK, let me just say from the start this is probably trolling - and if you take it that way then I apologise as I don't mean offence to any individual personally, I just want to genuinely get the feel for the other side of the argument. I have a DD and a wife but she has had to take the day off work today as our daughter's school is shut. (Yes, I could've taken the day off instead of her, but we agreed mutually that I had more important things to do than her as I run a small business and she is part of a public sector which deals better).
My point is, with the majority of children coming from divorced and single homes these days, AIBU to not employ a single mum to my small business (when there is a man EQUALLY qualified to fill the job) because of all the time off they need and the risk even of them deciding to get pregnant again and force me through all merry dances of temps/maternity pay/will she/won't she come back/ etc.
There seems to be a knee jerk reaction that any such talk of the reality of this is sexist, but surely it is a fair point to at least accept the reality and have a discussion. However, I understand if someone feels the need to report this thread as it does pose some uncomfortable questions.
Thanks

FionaJT Mon 21-Jan-13 19:05:49

Obviously, I'd rather that no-one was discriminated against (can't type sarcastically) - but the OPs arguement was particularly stupid in appearing to specifically beat single mothers with a stick (maternity leave) that would seem to be mostly applicable to women in relationships.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 21-Jan-13 19:09:01

I work for my dads heating company. On Friday when all the schools closed early it was the men who left work early to go and collect their kids. One if them even borrowed a company 4x4 to do so.

Many if the men had wives in Jess flexible jobs like care and the health service

I was the minority bring the mum who had he sat off with the children. Dh is a teacher & his school was open. Apparently today most if the Ben including managers were off with their children.

frantic53 Mon 21-Jan-13 19:09:38

What sausage said.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ubik Mon 21-Jan-13 19:12:01

DP runs a business

I work nights

Today he had to finish early and get kids from school so I could sleep.
He earns more than I do. But we are a team.

nailak Mon 21-Jan-13 19:14:54

i remember when i was a kid my mum was working, mine and my bros childcare was near her work. We walked 3 miles in the snow my mum pushing my bro in the pushchair, so my mum could go to work.

so YABU. single mums need to be at work.

Isabeller Mon 21-Jan-13 19:15:06

Will you also screen out men who have or might have future caring responsibilities for elderly parents? And anyone with a disability or at risk of developing the need for healthcare? Childless women who are lesbians or still have a womb?

Who would be your ideal employee?

Xales Mon 21-Jan-13 19:15:21

You are kidding about there always being someone to cover just because it is a public/government body right? Those people all have their own jobs to do. Not every public servant sits on their butt twiddling their fingers especially in these days of cuts and redundancies. Those people will have their own work as well as being stressed being dumped with your wife's work and probably every other mother parent that didn't make it in because their H's partners work is clearly more important.

I as a single parent have had one day off sick, one day for my DS being ill and two now for snow over the last 2 years.

Where as the 30 year old male that worked opposite me (before he left) had around 8 weeks off due to stress plus other time off for sickness in that same time period.

The other woman who works with us who is beyond child bearing age (I am getting there!) has has roughly 4 or more weeks off sick, and several weeks unpaid leave agreed with less than a weeks notice dumping on the rest of us again in the last 2 years.

Single parent/mother does not equal more time taken off. In fact I would say more days were lost to hangovers being unfortunately ill on a Monday morning by non mothers who can't go out drinking & partying.

nailak Mon 21-Jan-13 19:16:00

i just realised that made no sense. We were walking as the trains and buses were not working due to snow. A lot of other people at my mums work who lived closer, no kids etc didnt go in that day.

PessaryPam Mon 21-Jan-13 19:16:20

OP is correct and it's something you have to consider if you run a small business that cannot absorb staff being off.

lisad123everybodydancenow Mon 21-Jan-13 19:17:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Out of curiosity, do you currently employ any mothers? Do you currently employ anyone?

I wonder because I have done lots of recruitment (mainly people who I would later manage) and it is very rare that you get two people with exactly the same background and credentials, especially if you are recruiting for a job that requires experience. When faced with the reality of the situation you may find that the sex of the applicant is of less consequence than you think.

You are, of course, right to worry about reliability if you are a small business. I have spent most of my working life working for SMEs and a large proportion of the rest working for myself. No, you cannot ask someone if they are a single mother and, to be honest, if you did the answer may still give you no clue as to how robust their support system is should their child get ill. Neither can you ask someone if they plan to get pregnant (and again, with the unpredictability of fertility, this may not help anyway!) What you can do is stress the importance of reliability in your adverts, job description and at interview and ask for examples where the applicant has had to overcome obstacles in order to be somewhere on time/not let someone down. You can also ask applicants what their plans are for their future career, where they see themselves in 2, 5, 10 years etc.

Lots of small business owners struggle with recruitment, and why wouldn't you? You started your business because you had skills in your particular field, not because you knew everything about running a company and employing people. I think simply crossing women off your list will not guarantee you a faithful and long-serving employee and, given the risk to your business if you don't find someone like this, I would recommend looking to top up your skills in this area or hiring an external consultant to help you when you recruit.

baremadness Mon 21-Jan-13 19:20:50

Apocolypse made a brilliant point. You have a dd. By happilly discriminating against women you are making her journey more difficult.

As a parent it IS your job to facilitate change and to be a responsible employer.

determinedma Mon 21-Jan-13 19:20:55

I think the op posts some interesting questions, politely too! smile
Snow days are one thing, but when it comes to pregnancy then there is a limit to how couples can share this one equally! Maternity leave can cripple a small business.when I ran my business with my business partner, we only employed men or older women for this reason. Sorry, but the business supported both our families and had to survive.It was a business owned and run by two women but we couldn't afford to support pregnant staff.

knackeredmother Mon 21-Jan-13 19:21:18

I haven't read the whole thread but today was a snow day at my dd school. I had a little canvas amongst the parents and without exception it was the mothers who took the day off. I work in the NHS and there was a large proportion of female staff off for their dc's school closures. I will be flamed for saying this but I think the op may have a point.

FairPhyllis Mon 21-Jan-13 19:21:44

Yes, you're just a cog in the system. The system that your daughter will have to fight and survive in. Or does her future not matter?

Soupqueen Mon 21-Jan-13 19:23:09

Given that you have no idea of someone's personal circumstances when you interview them, you'd be safer not employing women full stop.........

Dirtymistress Mon 21-Jan-13 19:23:26

I am the only manager in the company I work for who is part-time. So there are about 300 others who do the same job as me in full time hours. I was granted my flexible working request after having DC1 and I am very grateful for it. I am never, ever the one who stays at home on the odd occasion when said child is sick. DP (male!) always does it because I have to do my job in 3 days as it is and would never give anyone the opportunity to suggest I wasn't up to the task. In my opinion, and experience, lots of working mums feel just like I do so by having that attitude you are missing out on employing someone completely committed to the job purely because they have kids. More the fool you!

limon Mon 21-Jan-13 19:24:43

It's probably been said up-thread but there is surely no way you'd know if someone was a mother at interview stage?

flippinada Mon 21-Jan-13 19:24:53

I don't think it's unreasonable for someone who runs a small business to be concerned about the reliability of his or her staff.

It is hugely unreasonable and prejudiced to assume that single mother = unreliable.

Anecdotally, in my last job the worst people for taking time off and leaving colleagues in the lurch were a 30 something man (various 'stress related' illnesses) a married mum and older, married man.

LizzieVereker Mon 21-Jan-13 19:25:22

But why does "earns more money?" have to equal "more important/indispensable" in the hierarchy of workers?

What I mean by that is, if one parent runs a small business, might it not be easier for them to do emergency childcare, because they could work from home if they have phone, PC Internet access? Whereas the other parent who might work in healthcare or education simply cannot work from home.

It irks me that the jobs often undertaken by women with children, such as TA roles, healthcare roles and retail positions etc are seen as "little jobs". These might not pay brilliantly but they are immensely important, economically and socially.

IME single parents are often the most reliable because they are self reliant;
they have generally thought the "what ifs" out before they accept a contract.

You might be a little cog OP, but you are perpetuating a status quo which you might not want your daughter to have to fit in with.

TheBrideofMucky Mon 21-Jan-13 19:26:50

This is really strange, I always thought children had two parents.

Suttyshotty Mon 21-Jan-13 19:27:08

I went to work today and my DP took my son to work with him this morning and then had this afternoon off with him......he isn't even his biological father. Just because your job is "more important" it doesn't follow that this is the same for all couples, nor do I think that most children live with just one parent as you suggest. So gender should not influence your decision to employ someone, it should be based on their ability to do the job, not what's in their pants!

gordyslovesheep Mon 21-Jan-13 19:27:56

yabu - I am a lone parent ...my ex is self employed - we SHARE INSET days/snow days/sick day for our 3

having breasts does not make you unreliable - having no option to share the load isn't always anyones fault

MrsKeithRichards Mon 21-Jan-13 19:31:52

2010 dh was self employed, no work equalled no pay. I automatically took time off when needed. Now we're both employed in proper contracted jobs it'll be split more equal.

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