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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.

Samnella Mon 21-Jan-13 18:47:47

And what Euroshagmore says actually.

DH and I share childcare when one of them is ill. They have had 2 days in the last year so hardly a huge inconvenience. You could have a non parent take more sick days off than that. As a parent I tend to only take sick days if desperate as I am conscious I may need time off elsewhere.

You are selecting one group of people and deciding they are a problem when the same could be said of any group. I work with a large number of younger people (in their 20's), They have a lot of Mondays off sick hmm. Would you put a ban on those as well? I think you really need to take a look at your attitude towards women.

holidaysarenice Mon 21-Jan-13 18:47:52

I can 100% see the point and I think in tight financial times more employers will think like this.

Re time off. I think the point is, he is a small company too much time off and it goes under thus no wage for the family. In the public sector time off is widely abused and rarely would it result in the loss of a family wage.

ihearsounds Mon 21-Jan-13 18:47:55

Why is it that you have important things to do but your wife doesn't? Her career should be just as important as yours. A lot of reasonable households share taking time off with their children. At least we do, the exception being important meeting that we cannot get out of.
Men can get ill themselves and take time off. Men can request time off to go to scans and other pregnancy related appointments, including paternity. They can decide to tell you to shove your job, and so will have to go and look again at employing someone.
Regardless of gender, you should employ the person that is the best for the job.

Zealey Mon 21-Jan-13 18:48:03

Some great responses so far and I take the point of all of them. Thanks.
(By way of explanation - please don't get me wrong - I'm not saying 'my job is more important' as a value judgement, but I earn three times for the family what my DW income is, and her job is in the public sector which means there's always someone to cover, as is the way with massive government funded institutions) Whereas my business could go under if I take a risk on spending tens of thousands training an employee who always has to take time off for reasons to do with childcare. If you are a single mum then 'sharing the burden with your partner' just isn't an option. But of course I can't ask at interview a woman's domestic/childcare/family arrangements. I'm not saying the Status Quo is good or right - in fact it probably is sexist - but it is not MY job to change it, I'm just a little cog (or cock, as you may decide ;) ) in a massive wheel at the moment, and must deal with reality as it presents.

McNewPants2013 Mon 21-Jan-13 18:49:08

Well maternity leave can be split ( not sure now or later this year) so I don't get the maternity leave thing

ApocalypseThen Mon 21-Jan-13 18:50:12

Yeah well, you're making the future for your daughter too.

ArtexMonkey Mon 21-Jan-13 18:50:19

So op, are there any other laws you feel as an employer you should be entitled to break for your own convenience, or is it just the ones relating to equal opportunities?

ihearsounds Mon 21-Jan-13 18:50:54

Oh and single parent households. I know of 4. Big shocker here, 3 are men. Unless you were asking questions about households, then you wouldn't know really who is and isn't a sp household anyway. Your not allowed to ask about children are you in interviews?

PrettyKitty1986 Mon 21-Jan-13 18:51:22

I think the op has a fair point, sexist though it may be. When df was self employed and needed to employ someone, we knew from the beginning it would be a man. Why? Because we were such a tiny company that if we employed a woman who either had children and needed time off (let's face it, rightly or wrongly it's usually mum) or suddenly got pregnant, it would literally have finished us because we would have no funds to train someone else.
Harsh but true, you play to the odds so we went for the smallest risk.

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 18:51:38

I can see where the OP is coming from but it's not ideal.

Trills Mon 21-Jan-13 18:52:51

If you are employing people with little responsibility who just need to be there for the hours then you are not going to get the same level of commitment as if you are employing people who are invested (mentally, although financially helps too) in the work.

The phrase has been cheapened but if you want your employees to care you have to foster a feeling of "we are all in this together".

My mum organises covering shifts at her work and she has found it is the young unattached single people who have been more likely to say "I can't get in because of the snow", because they don't mind losing a day's wages and they don't really care about the consequences. If they can get away with it they will. The people who are making the most effort to get in are either those who have been there longer and so have a sense of loyalty to the person who is having to stay on after a long shift while cover is found, or those who just need the money. So employing a single parent would be better than employing a childless person if that's the sort of attitudes you might get.

EndoplasmicReticulum Mon 21-Jan-13 18:53:39

Don't employ my husband then. He takes days off if they are needed, not me. He took one off today, in fact.

You're assuming that in any given couple, the man has the more important, better paid job, and the woman takes the main childcare responsibility. That is not always the case.

tinierclanger Mon 21-Jan-13 18:53:42

Odd assumption that the woman's job always comes second just because that's how it is in your household. Here we decide on the day who can most easily miss work. That's normally how it should work in a partnership.

BTW I don't believe your statement about "the majority of children coming from divorced and single homes".

If you choose to employ based on a strategy of misguided assumptions, it's probably as much your loss as anyone else's I suppose. Provided you act within the law.

cory Mon 21-Jan-13 18:53:44

The problem is that if wives always take the time off, their wages will remain far lower than their husbands, making it harder for them to prioritise their careers.

Which will of course eventually affect their pensions and ability to provide for their families in the case of divorce or early demise of husband. In families I know where wives and husbands share the burden of childcare, the husbands tend not to get promoted quite as quickly or as far as they might otherwise have done (particularly if there are problems with chronic illness or disability) but there is less inequality and less of the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Gibbous Mon 21-Jan-13 18:54:14

I would have thought that being your own boss makes it far easier to work from home and wonder what would have happened if your wife was the one with a small business and you were the one who had to work for the public sector.

I could quite see that subconsciously suddenly the public sector job would be more important and less flexible.

And why do you specify single mums? Why not single parents? If you are making a point about employing lone carers then say so. But I suspect you're not.

And everything EuroShagmore said.

Gibbous Mon 21-Jan-13 18:55:02

Are you making a point about married mothers or single parents OP?

acceptableinthe80s Mon 21-Jan-13 18:55:23

'sharing the burden' is possible as a single parent. Just because a couple separates doesn't necessarily mean the father ceases to exist! Lots of separated couples share custody. You're coming across as pretty ignorant tbh.

McNewPants2013 Mon 21-Jan-13 18:56:06

And as a mum I got to think very carefully before deciding to take time off. It's unpaid leave so it hard financially if I do.

louschmoo Mon 21-Jan-13 18:56:09

Yes yes to trills. I work for a small business, I am on my 2nd pregnancy and my employers have made it attractive for me to go back: they pay me competitively, they agreed to me returning part time after mat leave 1, they accept that my hours are 9-5 and are happy for me to work flexibly/from home, and they have never made a fuss on the odd occasion when my son has been ill and I've had to take the day off.
In return, I work my socks off. I took 6 months mat leave (statutory pay only) and will take 6 months with DC2. I often log in from home if I have a lot on. When my son has been ill my husband + I have shared the time off with DH taking the lion's share so that I'm not taking the piss out of my work - and I've always checked my email + logged in during naptimes on those days as well. I have my work email on my phone so am always in touch. I haven't had a sick day in a very long time - if I'm not vomiting or at death's door then I'm goung in. And I will remain at my company for the forseeable future because I doubt I would find a job with such family friendly employers easily. I think we both get a good deal.

FionaJT Mon 21-Jan-13 18:56:13

I take issue with the implication that single mums are the problem. If you're working and looking after kids on your own your chances of getting any sex at all are pretty damn slim, let alone planning to extend your family. A working single mother is the main wage earner for her kids and as such her job is just as important as any other traditional 'breadwinner'.
If you want to discriminate, at least target the happily married women who are way more likely to be planning another baby and, as others have pointed out, seem to be likely to put their husbands employment above their own.
And yes, I'm a single working mother, I haven't had date in 9 years and I pull out all the stops to be as reliable as possible because no one else is going to be looking after me and my daughter.

Gibbous Mon 21-Jan-13 18:59:42

If you want to discriminate, at least target the happily married women who are way more likely to be planning another baby and, as others have pointed out, seem to be likely to put their husbands employment above their own.

No, let's not discriminate against any women, aside from the fact it seems unlikely they would happily prioritise their husband's job.

Gibbous Mon 21-Jan-13 19:00:32

Sorry, I should have quoted to make it clear that wasn't my view.

"If you want to discriminate, at least target the happily married women who are way more likely to be planning another baby and, as others have pointed out, seem to be likely to put their husbands employment above their own.2

No, let's not discriminate against any women, aside from the fact it seems unlikely they would happily prioritise their husband's job.

caramelwaffle Mon 21-Jan-13 19:01:00

You are being unreasonable.

And cliched.

And illogical.

sausagesandwich34 Mon 21-Jan-13 19:03:13

I think people are going slightly off track with this one OP and making it a 'ooo you think you are so important' thread

so can I just clarify....

1) you run your own small business so it's pretty important that you are there, especially on a day when staff will potentially not arrive at work

2) your wife works in a public sector job with the flexibility to take time off that most private sector workers would give their back teeth for

3) together, you made the decision that she would take the day off to look after dd -you didn't make her

that is one issue taken care of -YANBU

the other issue, as I understand it is that as an employer running a small business, you are concerned about taking on female members of staff due to their potential to take time off to look after dcs etc, and the fact that your wife's day was disrupted today due to the weather, made you think about it and post the question on here today?

there are massive financial pressures on small business in relation to materity, sick pay, upcoming changes to pensions, NI etc etc
and yes if you have you only have 5 staff and 2 off them don't show up it can have a massive impact on the running of the business and as the owner, this is obviously important to you -as it should be

as other posters have pointed out, men as well as women can have time off uexpectedly at an actual cost to the business and also as a knock on effect to the business

as a manager, my personal experience is that it is the mothers that take time off I had to today and for everyone saying 'why is the father's job more important, he should take time off' -society is not going to change overnight and that is the reality, especially if one parent works part time and the other full time, it will usually be the part time person that takes the time off in my experience

I do however employ a man who's wife is a nurse and it is him that takes time off, and I have a single dad who works part time and will take the time off if needed

YWBU not to employ a woman on the basis that she would possibly have more time off, but I do understand why you would be concerned about it so YWNBU to worry about it

McNewPants2013 Mon 21-Jan-13 19:04:49

Op do you know anything about maternity leave, because a gay male couple adopts a baby one of the couple has the same legal rights as a 'mother'

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