Get your boss’s OK
Knowing your employer’s policies before you get a midday pickup call from school is a must — something Cheryl Fraser learned the hard way. Let go from her last job after she announced her pregnancy, Fraser recalls, “A single female VP said to me, when she found out, ‘I don’t do kids — I have a dog.’” Needless to say, the next time around Fraser, a trend forecaster and mother of two living in Stouffville, Ont., will ask up front about potentially working from home if her children are ill.
Which may make you wonder: When is the best time to broach the subject? Experts are divided. Sari Friedman, a human resources consultant and career coach in Toronto, feels strongly that if having flexibility to deal with unexpected family responsibilities is at the top of your job-requirements list, then you can certainly bring it up during the interview process. “But then you shouldn’t also ask about getting an extra week of vacation,” she adds. However, Anne Charette Tyler, president of The Burke Group, a human resources specialist in St. Catharines, Ont., recommends saving the subject until after you have a job offer and are negotiating salary and benefits.
If you’re already in a job and unsure of where your boss and company policy stand on sick days, schedule a chat before your child gets sick. You may be pleasantly surprised. For Sheryl Steinberg, a mom of two from Toronto and director of corporate affairs for a wireless company, staying home with a sick child has never made waves at work. A lot of her peers have kids and have been in the same boat. “No one abuses the practice, so it’s not a big deal; we just tote our smartphones and laptops, and work from home,” she says.