Family-Friendly Cutbacks Affecting Employee Choices

Back in the roaring 90s, companies in need of good employees instituted a number of family-friendly programs designed to attract working parents. With the boom over, some companies are now cutting back on family-friendly programs, forcing parents to make tough choices.

Melissa Kimball quit her job as an architect in Washington, D.C., when her company refused to allow her to work part-time permanently, USA Today reported.

"I didn't want to quit. I loved my job," says Kimball, 36, who left her job in April to stay home with Chance, 20 months. "But I felt like, if I'm not valuable enough for them to make family-friendly policies work, then the job isn't for me."

Benefits like telecommuting, job sharing, paid family leave and permanent part-time are going by the wayside as companies tighten the belt. With the unemployment rate high, employers have the upper hand. But some parents are choosing to leave the work force rather than have to choose between their jobs and their children.

The Census Bureau reports that the rate of mothers 15-44 with infant children (under 1 year of age), fell from a record high of 59 percent in 1988 to 55 percent in 2002, the first downslide since the Bureau began keeping tabs in 1976, USA Today reported.

"Some of the reasons women are going to the home is because organizations are not stepping up to the plate. Some organizations are cutting back," Lisa Levey of Catalyst, a research and advisory group in New York, told USA Today.

But while mothers may be leaving the traditional work force, they are not leaving work altogether. Some, like Diane St. James, 46, of Allentown, PA, are choosing to start their own businesses rather than punch a clock every day.

"I feel like I'm a so much better parent. I'm so much more accessible," St. James told USA Today. "And last year, I made more money working at home than I ever did at an office."

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