When a young mother reports late to work by 15 minutes – A short story

Amanda is a working mother of a 4 year old. While her child minder would take care of dropping her son to school everyday , today she was specifically invited to attend school with her son to discuss about an issue.

Her son’s teacher expressed concerns that Steve has not been responding promptly when questions were asked  and he does not pronounce certain words correctly. She recommends speech therapy for Steve immediately. This got Amanda nervous as her son seems to be normal while he was at home. The teacher was adamant though that Amanda does take an appointment with a speech therapist.

It’s been a tense morning for Amanda. When she walks into work late, there are few stares from her superiors. Just as she settles in, her manager shouts her name loud ‘Amanda..Do you have a minute ?’.

She walks out of the meeting room 30 minutes later with tears in her eyes. She felt she deserved better for her loyalty to the company. She also expected that her 6 feet tall boss in his mid-40’s would have common sense to understand that a 4 year old can’t go to school on his own and for any mother her child would be the priority when there are health concerns rather than work.

The irony is she had to waste 30 minutes to convince her boss about the reason she was late and had to apologize for no fault of hers. Her boss also denied receiving any text//e-mail that she would be reporting late to work.

Millions of managers around the world have still not figured out the purpose of penalizing their staff who report to work later than 9 a.m.

While she understands the fact that certain duties, which is mainly customer facing roles like airport check-in staff’s, bank front desk tellers, customer service representatives and similar roles need to report at the start of stated working hours and punctuality matters, majority of employees who work in corporate head quarters are not front desk staff and should have the flexibility

Irrespective, there are certain circumstances like Amanda where a supervisor is expected to have some common sense not to reprimand her in public for arriving late especially when she had a genuine reason.

Many organizations recently have adopted a flexible timing approach, flexible regarding when you can leave rather than when you can report to work.

For many years, she wondered what is the reason that most people have to report by 9 sharp, and if they don’t, why are they treated as if they committed a punishable offence.

She researched on this subject as to why everyone needs to start work at 9 – this took her back to the Henry Ford days of assembly line where organized work seems to have all started.

But let us first understand how life was then and how it has changed to our current times.

Back in the 20th century, 1930’s to be precise, factory workers did not own a telephone or any communication system simply because it was not available for common people.

Manufacturing cars required every worker in the production phase to be present to push the car ahead in the assembly line for further production. If any worker did not report to work, production would stop and cause production losses to the owner – Ford.

Most importantly, children of factory workers did not go to school then. Because they were meant to work in factories or do any other labor work when they became adults.

Today, majority of work force work in corporate head offices and are white collar/knowledge workers. Example of knowledge workers are jobs in design, engineering,  information technology, finance, marketing, accounting, public relations etc. Staff who work in these areas need not start their work for the day at sharp 9. They need information to do their job and they can work in their own pace, start work at their own time without any dependency on others to do their work.

The reality is that work in modern times, with all the automation of systems, work need not take exactly 9 hours in a day. Any efficient worker can finish his/work in 5-6 hours for the day, if there aren’t any distractions like meetings, e-mails and unnecessary gossips. There will be exceptions such as project deadlines or filing income tax returns but they should be exceptions not the norm.

Also, reprimanding any employee in front of other co-workers not only demoralizes the employee who becomes unproductive for the rest of the day. It does not send out a positive message to co-workers too who then work with fear that they will be in similar situation some day.

Amanda is upset but is also of the firm belief that most managers lack compassion. They would never understand the trouble that mother’s have to take to grow up their child.

She is also of the belief that employers must walk the talk if they really want more women to join the work force.

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