Tech workers without kids complain that employees with kids get ‘special treatment’ during pandemic

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Childless employees working for the major technology companies and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Salesforce are demanding they be given the same benefits as parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the outbreak spread throughout the country, tech companies moved quickly to provide extra support for employees who are also parents and suddenly found themselves doubling as caregivers and even teachers as schools and daycare centers were forced to close.

That included additional time off so that parents could care for their children.

But the extras have angered some workers who do not have kids, The New York Times reported.

“At a recent companywide meeting, Facebook employees repeatedly argued that work policies created in response to Covid-19 ‘have primarily benefited parents,’” the paper said. “At Twitter, a fight erupted on an internal message board after a worker who didn’t have children at home accused another employee, who was taking a leave to care for a child, of not pulling his weight.”

And while most employees at Salesforce praised the company’s decision to offer workers with kids an additional six weeks of paid time off, one manager who spoke to the paper on the condition of anonymity said two employees complained that the police unfairly favors workers with kids.

The divide mostly falls along this these lines: Workers without kids believe they are being unfairly discriminated against and asked to take up too much slack, while employees with kids say people who are not parents can’t appreciate the extra amounts of work and time it takes to put in hours for the company, tend to their kids’ needs, and even help them with school — all at once.

“The divide is more pronounced at some technology companies, where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives,” the Times reported.

“Tech companies were among the first to ask employees to work from home at the start of the pandemic, and to offer generous leave and additional time off once it became apparent that children would remain home from school as well.”

The paper said the divide appears to be most pronounced at Facebook.

The company began offering 10 weeks of paid time off in March to employees with children who could no longer attend school or go to daycare. Also included were employees who suddenly had to take care of an older relative whose nursing home shuttered.

Facebook’s move was mirrored by Google and Microsoft.

In addition, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company wouldn’t be scoring employees’ job performance for the first half of the year because there has been “so much change in our lives and our work.”

Also, the social media giant irked a number of childless employees after announcing that all workers would get bonuses in an amount usually reserved for only the best performances.

During a teleconference hosted by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more could be done for those who are not parents.

The question sparked a conflict, however. One employee wrote in comments that accompanied the video the company’s current policies for parents were “unfair” to non-parents. Another wrote that while normally it is hard to get leave, it’s become “easy breezy” for parents.

One parent wrote on her corporate Facebook page, which isn’t public and can only be seen by employees, that she felt the complaints were “harmful” and that parents were being wrongly judged because taking off to care for children was no mental or physical health break.

“Please don’t make me and other parents at Facebook the outlet for your understandable frustration, exhaustion and anger in response to the hardships you’re experiencing due to Covid-19,” the parent wrote, according to the Times.

Sandberg said she “disagreed with the premise of the question” that parents were the primary benefactors of the leave policy and freeze on corporate work ratings.

“I do believe parents have certain challenges,” she said. “But everyone has challenges, and those challenges are very, very real.”

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Jon Dougherty

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