'I said no' | Boss' response to mum's part-time work request goes VIRAL

Boss' response to mum's part-time work request goes VIRAL

Working from home amid the coronavirus crisis has caused a wealth of challenges, particularly for parents who have been forced to juggle home-schooling, childcare and holding down a job.

For many, continuing to work the same patterns as they would pre-pandemic has been a challenge due to additional childcare and home-schooling responsibilities.

To help manage this, one working mum asked her boss to switch to part-time working during the coronavirus crisis. Her boss’ response has since gone viral.

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According to the Mirror, Aaron Genest, an Applications Engineer Manager at Siemens Software, explained that an employee recently came to him asking to “move to 80% time”.

"Her husband, she said, was taking on some extra responsibility and they were having trouble keeping the kids on track during remote learning. I said no."

While it may have seemed unreasonable for him to deny this request, Genest’s reasons for this have been praised by others on the social media platform, with one writing: “I wish every employer thinks like you did (sic).”

‘Women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19’

He continued in the thread: "Women in the workplace have been disproportionately affected by COVID, erasing decades of gains. And it's easy to see why when women typically earn less (even for the same jobs) than their partners.

"Every reason my employee gave was valid and rational (we hire great people), but the base assumption was wrong.

"The assumption was that we should expect the same thing of our work lives now in terms of productivity and time commitment that we did with pre-COVID.

"I have a high-performing team who outperformed themselves again this year, outperforming almost every other team in my company in fact and winning awards for it.

"They did it with kids at home, with COVID isolation, and with increased stress and loneliness.

"They didn't do it by working 9 to 5 or putting 40 hours of tracked time in during the week. They didn't do it by shutting their door and not seeing their kids or by using every moment of Zoom calls for work. They did it by being a supportive group and working together.

"When someone has to leave to pick up their kids, someone else covers. When a two-year-old bounces into a business call, they smile and everyone understands.

"When a day is less productive because they can't stand staring at the walls anymore, they get out so the next one is better," he added.

The boss went on to tell his employee that she shouldn’t have to sacrifice her career for her mental health and instead added: "We're working together to make sure that she's still productive and happy, that she feels comfortable blocking off whatever time she needs in her calendar to support her family, and that she and her family will be healthy and ready for when we come out the other side."

Supporting working parents

With England currently in ‘Lockdown 3.0’, employers and HR departments have been thinking about how they can support working parents during this time.

As an HR leader that has experienced both the ‘HR’ and ‘working parent’ side of things, Vicki Field, an independent HR practitioner, recently shared some tips for employers to make it easier for working parents.

She previously told HR Grapevine: “Most people want to feel that they are succeeding at their jobs, and now we have the additional pressure of needing to feel that our children aren’t suffering academically because of these circumstances.

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“Do check in on team members and check how they are; perfectionists in particular will be struggling now,” the people expert added.

Elsewhere, Field explained that it is important for organisations to think about policies that support the new ways of working that have been sparked by the pandemic.

“Meetings don’t need to last an hour. As long as work is completed, does it matter when it’s done? Hours should be more fluid.

“No one should flinch if a child appears on Zoom; the quicker we normalise this abnormal time, the easier it will be for everyone,” Field added.

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