When we go to work, it is an unwritten rule that all other roles are dropped. We are no longer the parent, comedian, writer or whatever else we do when we’re at home – we are our job. While it may be easy enough to forget about our hobbies at work, forgetting our responsibilities as a parent is far harder.
Parental policies have changed in recent years, but sadly it seems as though the culture of work has not really caught up. Women are still expected to be mothers, while men are expected to focus on their career and ‘bring home the bacon’.
Parent passports have the potential to help fathers become more visible at work. They would be voluntary documents available to human resources which could hold all the relevant information on employees that have (or are expecting) a child. The passports would be gender specific to men in order to dispel the myth that ‘parenthood’ relates only to women. Passports could, for example, allow the provision of cover arrangements in emergencies. There would be no need to explain yourself every time you needed to leave work – the information would be right there in your passport.
Reports show that British fathers (middle-class workers especially) work longer hours and go to work when sick more often than their peers. Working fathers have said they are aware of company policies, but feel they shouldn’t use them. This fear of ‘rocking the boat’ makes it easy for employers to avoid changes in policy.
The parent passport is sure to be a divisive issue if introduced. Those who wave their passports every time things get a little tough are likely to be unpopular with their peers. What we do know for sure however, is that stressed parents make poor workers and by making parental roles more visible in the work-place, we are taking a step closer to a practical, and perhaps even a more enjoyable, compromise.
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