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Work things happening after work, expectation that child-free people will make up the numbers

(146 Posts)
PiddleOff Wed 23-Oct-19 10:12:03

At work there are sometimes events organised outside of work hours in the evenings.

There's an expectation that people will attend these. It's not workloaded or contracted but it's still expected. For example, if there's an invited speaker, it'd look terrible if no-one turned up for their talk so there's an expectation that people will show up.

When these events are organised, there's a group of colleagues who have children who are incredibly quick off the mark to say that they can't make it because of child-care commitments. Fair enough.

However, the burden then falls on child-free people (like me) to make up the numbers. There's an assumption that us child-free people, or at least some of us, will always be at these events.

I have said before that I'm not able to attend events outside of work hours (without giving a reason) and I've raised the issue that events outside of work are an EDI issue anyway so shouldn't be happening. However, the expectation that us child-free people are there persists to the point where some of us (including me) have had comments on our willingness to engage/be collegiate.

I don't know what my AIBU is really, I just wanted to rant about this and see if anyone else has had a similar experience and how they dealt with this.

Zebraaa Wed 23-Oct-19 10:14:01

I definitely would not go. Your plans are just as important as everybody else’s.

mindutopia Wed 23-Oct-19 10:23:56

If people with children can’t go and people without children are struggling to go, some thought needs to be given to planning. If there is no demand for these events and they’re struggling to make up numbers, it needs to be happening during the day.

I have kids but I make work events outside of work hours. Not every one, but the key ones. It means I may not see my kids for a couple days, but I do my best (even with a 3 hour commute). But other people have older parents to care for or are studying in the evenings or have second jobs.

It sounds like the issue is an organisational one, not an issue with working parents. Seems dumb to plan things that people can’t make.

Mintjulia Wed 23-Oct-19 10:28:18

Surely it evens out. I did that stuff for 20 years, then had ds so avoided it for a decade. Now ds is older, I can do more.

It’s a cycle not a single day choice.

whywhywhy6 Wed 23-Oct-19 10:28:36

If you can’t or don’t want to go, don’t. When the events are poorly attended then the organisers may decide to stop holding them. None of it is your issue.

Mummyoflittledragon Wed 23-Oct-19 10:29:23

Sounds like poor management. If these talks are so important, why not have them during work hours? Or if they aren’t, let you choose. Maybe work need to gauge interest before booking events. See if that works.

StabMeReapers Wed 23-Oct-19 10:32:18

some of us (including me) have had comments on our willingness to engage/be collegiate

Are these comments formal or reflected in any appraisals? I’d be discussing that with management or HR because if this is a performance expectation it needs to be clear in the terms of employment.

It’s deeply unfair, but some jobs and work cultures think it’s not an issue. confused

PiddleOff Wed 23-Oct-19 10:33:19

@mindutopia It's not that they're struggling to make up numbers, there's always a smattering of people. So there's no appetite to move things to during the working day, unfortunately.

@whywhywhy6 This is absolutely my approach. I don't want to go so I don't Unfortunately, though, it does kind of become my issue when my engagement/collegiality is called into question because I don't attend evening events angry

SoupDragon Wed 23-Oct-19 10:33:21

It's a difficult situation I think. If I had had to do this it would have cost me money as I would have had to pay a baby sitter.

Generally speaking, someone with children will be less flexible than someone without (this is not always the case, obviously. It should all be judged on an individual basis)

PiddleOff Wed 23-Oct-19 10:35:11

@StabMeReapers Hmm, not formally documented in personal appraisals or any other formal setting but more so in an informal mentoring/career advice kind of way.

Basically, there are people at work who are know for being disengaged for all sorts of reasons and I'm one of them because I don't stay after work for events.

SerenDippitty Wed 23-Oct-19 10:38:24

*Surely it evens out. I did that stuff for 20 years, then had ds so avoided it for a decade. Now ds is older, I can do more.

It’s a cycle not a single day choice.*

Maybe for you, not for everyone. Not everyone’s life follows the same cycle you know. Some people remain childfree/less throughout their working life.

Bofster37 Wed 23-Oct-19 10:43:07

What’s an EDI issue?

Bofster37 Wed 23-Oct-19 10:44:26

Also, YANBU. I use the phrase, “sorry, that time doesn’t work for me so I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend.”

mankyfourthtoe Wed 23-Oct-19 10:46:02

I'd try to work out how many events a year, how many people they'd like to attend and how many staff there are and do my fair share. If others don't do theirs then that can politely be pointed out.

PuppyMonkey Wed 23-Oct-19 10:48:51

I started off in a role like this, where I always ended up covering evening council meetings (local newspaper reporter) while older colleagues with kids never had to do it. My office was scrupulously fair about you getting time off in lieu for any evening work though - and I must be honest, I used to quite enjoy swanning off on a Friday lunchtime as I'd worked Thursday evening. Do you get time off in lieu OP?

I don't think it's unreasonable for you to bring it up OP. TBH, though, I'm a coward and I'd be tempted to come up with a really good reason why I couldn't attend every time, eg. you're at a training course, out at xx event that has been booked and paid for in advance so can't cancel.

PiddleOff Wed 23-Oct-19 10:54:10

@Bofster37 Me too, except I absolutely don't apologise. I just say "I can't attend events outside of work hours".

@PuppyMonkey Hmm, yes and no. I mean probably technically we do but our work is very autonomous so no-one bothers claiming time in lieu as we can just take a random morning off/in lieu and no-one would ever notice or care.

@mankyfourthtoe I get the sentiment but it's a bit more complex because not everyone will be relevant to go to every event (e.g. some events after work are far outside of my area of work so there's no expectation that I'd be there and ditto for other people). Plus, many colleagues with children just absolutely flatly refuse to do anything outside of work hours ever. And fair play to them.

PiddleOff Wed 23-Oct-19 10:54:41

What’s an EDI issue?

Equality, diversity and inclusion

NovoJester Wed 23-Oct-19 10:57:19

Hmmm I think you are being a bit unreasonable by saying you can’t attend any events outside of work without giving a reason when events outside of work are expected.

I can see why colleagues are raising it if you’ve taken the blanket approach with no explanation.

JorisBonson Wed 23-Oct-19 10:58:00

YANBU. I have exactly the same issue at work. Myself and 1 other on my team are child free and we're constantly dumped with unwanted overtime. I feel like I'm being discriminated against for my and others life choices.

HunterHearstHelmsley Wed 23-Oct-19 10:58:22

If you can't make it then you can't make it. I don't have children but I'm very clearly that the only week night I am able to commit to events is Thursday. I have other commitments on the other nights so it is just not possible.

Fweakout Wed 23-Oct-19 10:58:34

I think never going to events outside work hours is a bit inflexible, yeah. Whether you have children or not.

by the same token always having to go is a bit rubbish.

Be political about it - pick one or two you can go to and attend very visibly. Or turn up for the speaker at 6pm, listen, say hi to your boss, sneak out at 6.30, job done.

Oakmaiden Wed 23-Oct-19 11:00:26

How often are these events?

GrumpyHoonMain Wed 23-Oct-19 11:02:07

Presumably listening to these speakers provides an advantage to those employees who attend versus those who do not. If I were you I would play this politically and tell HR that parents and carers are losing out on a valuable learning opportunity because these events occur so late. You could mention discrimination too

PuppyMonkey Wed 23-Oct-19 11:02:21

no-one bothers claiming time in lieu as we can just take a random morning off/in lieu and no-one would ever notice or care.

Well, it sounds like not such a bad place to work then, maybe you have to take the rough with the smooth (also take a few extra mornings off a month grin)

missbattenburg Wed 23-Oct-19 11:05:42

Expecting people to attend out of work events is wrong, imo.

Either:
- the event is so good that people will want to go voluntarily (if they can)

or

- it's not, in which case attendance should be paid or time gien back etc, because there clearly isn't the value in it for them to attend voluntarily. The 'burden' for attendance should be shared equally among everyone applicable (same role/department/location, as appropriate)

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