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Overcoming single mom discrimination at work

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Your Office Coach

Question: “I am a single mother raising two toddlers by myself. This is held against me at work, because no one else has this problem. My co-workers are all happily married or have grown children.  With no family available to help, I often have to take time off for medical appointments, illnesses and other child care issues. My boss says if this continues, he may have to find someone else for my position. I feel desperate because I love my job. How can I make these people understand?” —  Worried Mother

Marie’s Answer: Juggling child care and work is tough, but being an unemployed single mom would be even tougher. If your boss has started fantasizing about your replacement, you must quickly take steps to save your job.  

•    Start by recognizing that the problem is not a lack of sympathy. Your manager simply hates the inconvenience created by your frequent absences. He may also receive complaints from co-workers who have to cover for you.

•    Explain to your boss that you love your job and will do everything possible to minimize absences. When you must be out, offer to work from home or make up time later. Make sure you do such an outstanding job that you will be hard to replace. 

•    Instead of using vacation days for fun, stockpile them for family emergencies. When you have medical appointments, return to work immediately. Don’t extend the time with errands or lunch.

•    Reduce co-worker resentment by making every effort to do your fair share, even if that means working through lunch or taking assignments home.  Drop all talk of child care problems from your conversations. 

Finally, acquaint yourself with the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If health issues ever jeopardize your job, you may need legal protection. 

For tips on enhancing job security, see How to Avoid Losing Your Job.

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