Are You Too Family Friendly?

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In this article, Susan J. Wells discusses the inequality in benefits and flexibility at work between married workers, and those who are single and childless. The number of single and unmarried US residents rose has rise to 92 million in 2006, while employer benefits and policies remain tailored towards workers who have families (Wells, 2007). Since the overall assumption is that if someone is single, he or she has nothing better to do (Wells, 2007). Thus, the preference in flexibility and benefits goes towards married workers. For example, childless singles are feeling exploited in terms of having fewer benefits, less compensation, longer hours, mandatory overtime, and less flexible schedules by their married and child-rearing co-workers (Wells, 2007). As a solution to this problem, it was suggested that employers should shift towards being more employee or life-friendly, as opposed to family-friendly (Wells, 2007). In the process of creating a more singles-friendly culture, employers should focus on “social inclusion, equal work opportunities, equal access to benefits, equal respect for non-work life, and equal work expectations” (Wells, 2007, p. 38). Several companies have already taken a step towards becoming more inclusive and fair towards single and childless workers. For example, one company began to bundle vacation, sick and personal leave into one pool so that employees may manage their time more flexibly (Wells, 2007). The issue, however, remains. Employers must create supportive workplace policies and include a “singles perspective right along with the other perspectives” (Wells, 2007, p. 41).
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