Can Your Boss Make You Pay for Child Care When You're Working From Home?

One mom on Reddit complained that her company was requiring that she put her 1-year-old daughter in daycare—and working parents everywhere are enraged.

Thanks to more companies offering remote work through the pandemic, work-at-home jobs have become more popular than ever. And for some working parents, remote jobs provide the opportunity for them to get creative when it comes to childcare.

However, some employers have pushed the boundaries of what they can control out of their employees when it comes to work and kids. Take Reddit poster u/EmptyXzero, for instance, who recently took to a Mommit thread to explain her work predicament. The thread's title: "Job requiring I send daughter to daycare."

The poster goes on to explain that despite the fact that her job performance has not suffered, her employer is requiring that she figures out some form of child care for her daughter—who is 1 and was previously being watched by grandparents. However, during the pandemic, when the grandparents were higher risk—the childcare arrangement was longer an option. So the mom was called into a meeting with higher ups at the company and informed that "having a child at home and a full-time job is not sustainable" and that she would have to update them on what she was doing to get her daughter in daycare.

Midsection of working mother examining documents with baby girl at home office
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As a working mom myself, when I read the post, my rage hit a new level. Before we even get into what parents are legally entitled to during COVID-19, can we all just agree that this is morally wrong? You've got a parent who's trying to make things work—saying she's meeting all of her company's goals, signing on earlier, and staying on later—who, for various and valid reasons, is not able to have a traditional form of care childcare. Should her employer get any sort of say in how she cares for her child? Why should she be forced into paying for child care if, as she says, she's still meeting her work priorities?

This is a tricky situation, especially because it certainly wouldn't be fair to expect an employee who is a parent to be both a full-time parent and a full-time employee. Burning the candle at both ends is definitely a recipe for burnout. But if a parent is able to work out a schedule, such as swapping with a partner, or has a baby who naps regularly, shouldn't that be their choice?

Well, unfortunately, whether or not it's actually legal for companies to force child care on its employees is a bit murky. Experts say that this Reddit situation is in sort of a gray area, and it really depends on where the poster lives and what the exact specifics of the situation are. But legal or not, it's flat-out wrong.

The fact that this situation occurred during a literal pandemic, when parents were forced to make heroic sacrifices each and every single day and when daycares were quite literally not even open in many areas, is even more maddening. "This makes me so mad," one Redditor commented. "I get it, kind of, but wtf. This is a pandemic. We are faced with a potentially lethal virus for which there is currently no cure, and it's still frowned upon for women to prioritize their families."

So as we all scream into the void that none of this is fair, all we can do is ask companies to show a little empathy for the realities their employees are facing when balancing work and parenthood. It's time to show working parents—and especially moms—a little more flexibility. The future of working women depends on it.

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