Sunday, 8 August 2010

Working mother wins human rights decision

In the 1970s feminists applied their intellectual acumen, emotional clout and political savvy to ensuring that women's work, in all its forms, was valued. The expression: 'Every mother is a working mother' became a rallying cry and women's right to work was supported. To a certain extent, this was also of benefit to men who became more engaged in childcare and educating their offspring.

In spite of the ditzy perorations of Sara "Choice for me, me, me" Landriault, there have been major advancements for working mothers - at home and in the labour force.

The sight of men pushing strollers in public places - on their own! - no longer shocks.

Yet there are still work environments who have resisted the needs of their employees' rights to fair accommodation, with regard to balancing their family responsibilities.

A Canada Border Services Agency officer who had to give up her full-time position after the birth of her first child has won a six-year battle with her employer over its failure to accommodate her. [...]

Johnstone had been working a variety of shifts as a full-time officer at Pearson Airport in Toronto and had a good record with her employers when she had her first child in 2003.

Both before going on maternity leave and before returning to work in 2004, Johnstone had asked her employer if she could come back on an altered schedule, one in which she worked three static 13-hour shifts a week, with no preferred start time. The unusual schedule was suggested so that she could care for her child on the four days she could not find available child care, while at the same time working the weekly hours needed to maintain her status as a full-time employee and retain her maximum pension.

Johnstone said because of the unpredictable shifts of the job, public or private child-care options were not available, but that she had found three days in which family members could care for her child. [...]

Her employer denied the requests, saying the Canadian Border Services Agency had an unwritten policy not to provide full-time hours to those requesting accommodation on the basis of child-rearing responsibilities. [...]

"When I asked for clarification on the policy and when I asked to come back full time they told me I couldn't and there was no reason given that was good enough," said Johnstone [...] The tribunal agreed, saying that the agency didn't establish a strong enough case that altering the schedule to accommodate Johnstone would have constituted an undue hardship for the employer and other workers.

This is a very important decision for working mothers and fathers, as well as other workers who may request an accommodation of their employer to handle family responsibilities, such as caring for a spouse ill with cancer or an elderly parent with Alzheimer's.

After all, mothers - and fathers - are working, productive members of our society.


Anonymous said...

Women fought to have the unpaid labour of child minding and housekeeping on the Canadian census form. That will certainly be wiped out,won't it?

Luna said...

I sent that article to the bastards who wouldn't give me a leave of absence to look after my disabled child, and told them I wanted an apology or an explanation of how giving it to me would have constituted undue hardship on the church.

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