After tech companies told employees to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, they began offering new benefits like extra time off to help workers take care of their children.
It wasn’t long before employees without children started to ask: What about us?
Daisuke Wakabayashi and Sheera Frenkel detail the friction, which is more pronounced at some technology companies, where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.
At a recent companywide meeting, Facebook employees repeatedly argued that work policies created in response to Covid-19 “have primarily benefited parents.”
At Twitter, a fight erupted on an internal message board after a worker who didn’t have children at home accused another employee, who was taking a leave to care for a child, of not pulling his weight.
When Salesforce announced that it was offering parents six weeks of paid time off, most employees applauded. But one Salesforce manager, who is not permitted to talk publicly about internal matters and therefore asked not to be identified, said two childless employees, reflecting a sentiment voiced at several companies, complained that the policy seemed to put parents’ needs ahead of theirs.
Tech companies were among the first to ask employees to work from home at the start of the pandemic and to offer generous leave and additional time off once it became apparent that children would remain home from school as well.
Some employees without children say that they feel underappreciated, and that they are being asked to shoulder a heavier workload. And parents are frustrated that their childless co-workers don’t understand how hard it is to balance work and child care, especially when day care centers are closed and they are trying to help their children learn at home.