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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.

Treats Tue 22-Jan-13 13:08:50

Sherbert - I'm a bit shock at your post.

I work for a small business and am about to take my third maternity leave - it's gone from strength to strength in the time I've worked here, so I always get irritated by these "fertile and childbearing women are such a THREAT to small businesses" arguments.

"he needs people to be in work, reliable and thinking of the job first ". Fair enough - don't disagree, but YABU because:

a) that's what I do - even though I have a child!
b) there's no guarantee that you would get that from someone who didn't have children.

If the OP wants to manage the risks to his business from potentially unreliable workers, he should look at all his recruitment and retention practices. By planning to discriminate against a whole swathe of people, based on their potential fecundity, he's cutting off a valuable source of experience and skills.


- a parent returning to the workforce might be happy to accept a lower salary in return for increased flexibility. If they can get a full time role done in four days, then it's a win win for both sides.

- if you had two part timers instead of a full timer, they could cover each other and you wouldn't risk losing 100% of their skills and experience if one of them leaves.

- maternity leave offers the opportunity to try out someone with
different skills and experience and to do something different. If you have to downsize for a bit, then not having to pay someone for up to a year can surely only be helpful!

HumptyDumptyBumpty Tue 22-Jan-13 13:53:02

Prob been said (I skipped two pages of replies) but:
I am a woman, the only one in our small business (4 employees total). I am the only one who will therefore possibly become pg - currently TTC.

I am very aware that in such a small organisation, even a very short mat. leave will cause endless headaches; the work I do is very specialised, and it took me 6 months plus to understand the processes and learn to manage the workload. Replacing me with a temp/mat cover would be hard. So I feel for my employer, and I fully understand the reluctance of small business owners to employ women who are childless but of an age where it might be reasonably expected that on average, they are more likely to take mat. leave than not.

I do see that men/women unlikely to have children etc are also a 'risk' - but the 'they might leave/have to care for a parent/die' arguments apply to ALL employees, the 'risk' of a female employee of childbearing age become pregnant is an extra risk on top of the usual ones. Obviously, you can't have a business without risk, but in a difficult economic environment, I don't think it's unfair to consider this as an issue. Sorry, I know this will be unpopular, but OP asked for opinions.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 22-Jan-13 14:17:44

Clouds and trees: Men have children too.Children are not the sole responsibility of women. So maybe we shouldn't employ men of childbearing age then?
Good plan hmm

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 22-Jan-13 14:19:12

Every woman I know who works "part time" works harder than the men they work with (and they bring more money and clients into their firms).
When a busy woman goes to work she actually works. Busy women don't fuck about.

Lovelygoldboots Tue 22-Jan-13 14:28:08

Decades of feminism and fighting for equal pay and there will always be someone with the view that women are employment liability. Depressing.

Andro Tue 22-Jan-13 15:28:25

As a manager, I too have found that it's very difficult to have a rational discussion about the subject of parental leave/maternity leave/emergency leave - unfortunately this makes putting back up protocols in place very difficult!

Being a woman in a high level job I had never really considered the potential issues surrounding parental leave (a big failing on my part at the time), until over half of a specialist team told me they were pregnant...within a 3 day period. The fall out was immense and was, without a doubt, one of the biggest tests of my management skills. It takes 9-12 months to put a new employee through the required training courses, anti-natal appointments, chronic morning sickness etc meant that the workload on the other team members increased hugely and the resentment in the team was toxic.

I knew then that there needed to be protocols in place and back-up systems so that a similar situation didn't occur again. The is only so much we can do because not all areas can implement WAH or even flexi-time (business reasons), the right procedures make a huge difference though.

We are rightly concerned about equality in the workplace; we are not going to get there unless we can have some really honest discussions about the fears (rational of otherwise), misconceptions, business impact of leave etc and the management of the afore mentioned issues without fear of being branded sexist/exclusionist/misogynistic.

Andro Tue 22-Jan-13 15:30:47

It takes 9-12 months to put a new employee through the required training courses,

Should have said

It takes 9-12 months to put a new employee through the required training courses to take on this role.

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:00:31

I can see how maternity leave has been a problem in the past...but it will cease to exist soon. From that point there will only be 'baby leave' to contend with. Which may be taken by either parent making women of child bearing age and equal risk to men of childbearing age.

There is no problem being honest about the difficulties that small businesses face. Thinking you can avoid them by discrimination is massively unreasonable and somewhat stupid for all the reasons outlined in this thread.

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 18:17:47

0blio Yes they do seem to want to and have blinkers on, but sadly they forget that if someone hasn't got morals outside of work then rarely will that change inside of work. So if things go horribly wrong for them they shouldn't be surprised. Legal bills can add up to far more than a couple of days of through snow or sickness of children....

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 18:19:47

where I work there are three singles mothers and 6 married mothers. Guess which mothers have been in every day without fail and which have had time of with their dependants?

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