I’m stuck at work while the parents on my team get to leave

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, December 1st, 2013

THE QUESTION

I work in the creative department of an ad agency. The work is exhilarating but exhausting, requiring us to work nights and weekends and respond to clients – even on vacation. My problem has less to do with the 24/7 schedule than with the flexible work ethic of a couple of my colleagues, who think that having children excuses them from the expectations made of everyone else. After taking lengthy parental leaves, they run out the door on the stroke of 5 p.m., “work from home” on a regular basis and leave the rest of us to pick up where they left off. At first, I was understanding, but now I’m growing to resent the double standard. Any advice?

THE ANSWER

My first thought is, do you all work for the same person? Why is there such a distinction between your workaholic commitment and that of the parental employees? Have you ever just run out the door at 5 p.m., informing your colleagues that you will be working from home?

It could be that the parental group struck a deal with management to leave “early.” Or, they just leave. So, by right, you are entitled to those privileges as well. Have you tried either tactic, asking or simply leaving?

One hopes the manager isn’t playing favourites. I do see one group being more assertive than the other. Sit down with your boss and ask what the policy is on the issue you want clarified – hours of work, working from home, or others.

You don’t have to point any fingers or make any comparisons. Tell your boss what a great employee you are, that you’re totally dedicated and committed – and that work-life balance is important to your well-being. That said, you would like the opportunity to work from home more, have flex time, take time off in lieu of overtime, and basically do what the other group is doing.

If you are told there is no flexibility for you, then this could be a case of discrimination or, at least, favouritism. It definitely would smack of unfairness. Consider what else might be of importance to you to negotiate in lieu of flex time, and ask for that. If there is no give on your company’s part, then you have to decide how important this injustice is to your values. Learn to live with it or leave.

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It