Because I am a working mother, my children attend childcare. Any parent whose child is in school or around other children is well aware that their child will eventually come home sick. Should you have to choose between caring for your sick child or going to work because you can’t afford to be off? Let me tell you that I have had to make that choice. When my son was about three he had a fever of 104. I was scheduled to get off work in about 2 hours. The reason I tell you how many hours I had left in my shift is that every hour had already been calculated and designated to pay a certain bill. I didn’t plan on my child getting sick during those hours. Regardless, I had no choice but to see about my son. Not only did I have extreme concerns for my son’s health, I had to worry about making up the time I missed because neither paid sick nor personal time off was offered. I was written up for leaving early to take my son home, and told that if I received a second warning I would be suspended without pay.
I am now blessed to have an employer who not only insists that I see about my children, she also offers each employee paid sick and personal time off. I can now take time to be with my children when they need me, or to attend a school function, without anxieties or worrying about financial obligations. But I know that many other workers are not so fortunate. We need legislation to guarantee that all parents have this right. As a nation, we can’t say we care about children’s well-being and not care about what happens to their parents at work.