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Child-free employees are sick of picking up the slack for parent peers

Child-free employees are sick of picking up the slack for parent peers

Being a working parent is hard, but some say being a working non-parent has never been harder.

As parents are tasked with working from home while juggling child care, child-free employees say they are expected to pick up the slack — and they’re resentful.

“If you’re dealing with people who have kids, suddenly it’s, ‘I have to do all this stuff for my kids, so I’ll get back to you at 10 p.m. I know you don’t have kids, so you’ll be available,’ ” said Kristen Ruby, 33, the child-free CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public and media relations agency.

“There’s this unwritten expectation that you’ll work around their schedule and be flexible, because you’re the one with fewer commitments. And that’s not true.”

The message, said the Westchester-based entrepreneur, is that non-parents are less valued.

“I think women who don’t have kids are treated differently in business, and it’s not for the better,” said Ruby, adding that she feels excluded from social-media groups and events for women in business that only cater to working moms. “It creates almost a  class divide between the haves and the have nots, but the haves are those who have kids and the have nots are those who don’t.”

Kris Ruby
Kristen RubyOmark Reyes

Lisa, 37, a senior vice president in marketing and communications, said one of her colleagues at the firm where she formerly worked would use child care as an excuse to leave early — even though both had commitments at 7 p.m.

“She actually used the words ‘I have two mouths to feed’ as a reason why I had to stay and get it done versus her,” said Lisa, who asked not to use her last name for professional reasons.

In the end, Lisa had to cancel a planned girls’ dinner that had been on the books for weeks.

“If you have young children and you have to leave at 5 o’clock, no one’s going to tell you that you can’t leave. But if someone without kids has an early dinner commitment, there’s the perception that it can get pushed, and it’s not given the same weight,” she said.

“It’s not acceptable to say, ‘I have to sign off early because I have a date,’ but it’s perfectly acceptable to sign off early to relieve the nanny.  For people who are single, dating is a big part of our lives.”

A Fast Company article earlier this month raised the idea of a paid sabbatical for all child-free employees equal to the paid time off that working parents enjoy.

“I’ll never have extended paid time off like my parent peers would,” said Lisa, who added that the pandemic has exacerbated the divide. “Everyone’s checking in on the parents — how they’re doing with the kids. There’s this feeling that I’m being forgotten. No one’s checking in on me to see if I’m doing OK.”

Labor and employment lawyer Domenique Camacho Moran told The Post she doesn’t anticipate companies expanding paid benefits amidst the continued economic fallout from the pandemic.

Domenique Camacho Moran
Domenique Camacho MoranJim Lennon

“To avoid employee tensions, we continue to recommend that employers identify neutral policies that offer employees similar benefits for a variety of reasons,” said the Long Island-based lawyer. “For example, paid time-off policies that permit employees to use time for child care, other family obligations or personal priorities.”

“Employers need to be consistent — the best plan is to know what your business can tolerate, so you’re not treating any group better than the other.”

When Kristy Reed was at her last job in e-commerce, a colleague started a policy everyone could get behind: Each team member was free to spend time with their “baby” — whether it was an actual baby or a hobby.

“We all called it our baby — but everyone’s baby was different. I had a tennis baby when it was time to play tennis,” said Reed, who’s 38 and lives in Midtown.

“Sometimes parents felt bad leaving the office when there was still a lot of work to do.  It was [the company’s] way of making it feel more equal,” said Reed, who enjoyed her 6 p.m. tennis lessons guilt-free.

But working moms who can see both sides’ perspectives ask for more acceptance.

“Before I started my own business, I used to be so annoyed by the women in the agency who left early or came in late because of their kids. I thought it was such a crock of s - - t,” said Charlotte Shaff, a 49-year-old mom of two who now runs her own p.r. agency in Phoenix.

“I was not aware of how much of a responsibility it is to raise your children and then try to do your job properly. Now as a working mom, I totally get it and I give them tons of respect.”

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Vicky Sequeira

With more than 6 years of experience working as a media professional, Vicky flaunts prowess in bringing the juicy tit-bits from the entertainment industry for the readers of News Brig.

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