Childfree Woman Asks If She's 'Heartless' For Refusing To Give Mother's Day Off To A Coworker Who Lost Her Child

Other coworkers also refused to give up their day off but she is getting all the blame.

Last updated on Apr 30, 2024

stressed childfree worker and sad woman who lost a child Mizuno K, Engin Akyurt / Pexels, sparklestroke via CanvaPro

Unfortunately in the U.S., paid time off can be hard to come by. Some companies have allowed their employees to "donate" their time off to those who've used all of theirs — which has caused some ill will between coworkers left to determine who "deserves" the days off more.

One childfree woman sparked such a feud after she refused to donate one of her vacation days to a grieving mother on Mother's Day.

Sharing her story to the Reddit forum, r/AmITheA–hole, the 22-year-old woman sought the advice of other users regarding the situation. She began her post by revealing that she is a full-time student who works part-time. Last year, one of her coworkers, whom she refers to as “Linda,” tragically lost her 8-year-old son in an accident. The loss affected the entire staff.


“We were terribly heartbroken because we had met the kid a bunch of times before since she was a single mother and sometimes had to take him here,” the woman wrote. As a contribution, she and her other coworkers signed off some of their paid days off to give to Linda, who took off work for two months following the accident.


RELATED: Childless Woman Asks If She’s Wrong For Not Changing Vacation So Co-Worker Could Take Her Kids To Disney World


When Mother's Day came around, their boss decided to allow some people to take the day off.

“She said that if people had kids then we obviously had a mother and we deserved to spend the day [Mother’s Day] with her,” the woman shared. 

Her boss compiled a list of employees who requested the day off in advance so that they could decide among themselves if they wanted to trade their paid days off with each other. The woman claimed that she was the only non-mother who had the day off. While she is estranged from her own mother, she planned to use the day to catch up on studying for her final exams. A few of the mothers she works with have asked her if she could give them her day off instead, including Linda.

“Linda approached me and said that this will be her first mother's day without her son, so she wanted to ask me if I could trade her day with her,” she wrote. “Again, I said no and told her how sorry I was, she said thanks and went back to her space.” 


After the woman’s interaction with Linda, her other coworkers did not hide how they felt about it.

“One of the other moms (who already traded her day with one of the guys) said I was [wrong] for not giving it to her since I don't even talk to my mom anymore and just for that, I don't deserve it,” the woman wrote. 

When she asked the mother why she did not give the day off to Linda herself, she argued that it was because she was a mother of five.

While other coworkers agreed that the woman should have donated Mother’s Day to Linda, her boss believes that she is entitled to keep it. 

“I don't know how losing a child feels, I don't even plan on having them. But when I decided to go no contact with my mom I lost the only family I had,” she admitted. “I'm also alone and I have to keep my scholarship so I can study and sometimes get 2 jobs and freelance stuff to pay for my place and my own things… I hardly take days off because I really need the money, I wasn't even using the day to lay around or rest. I was trading work from work.”


RELATED: Woman Wonders If She's Wrong For Not Giving Employee Day Off For Her Daughter's 'Chemo'

In addition, childless employees are often given the short end of the stick in the workplace, especially when it comes to time off. 

According to a 2022 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 85% of respondents believed that parents are prioritized when it comes to time off granted, with 81% also agreeing that child-related reasons for absences at work are more important for their employer than the reasons of childfree employees. 

“The challenge for HR leaders is that there are systematic and personal biases against child-free people. The survey mentions time off, but what about all of the HR benefits that child-free people will never be able to access?” Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP and founder of Live, Learn, Plan, asked in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC)

@glassdoor This conversation is anything but child's play. What do you think about picking up parents' slack? #parentsatwork #childcare #parenting #workingparents #childfree ♬ original sound- glassdoor

“What HR leaders can do is adopt policies and train managers to respect the person rather than their family status,” Zigmont said. 


Everyone's responsibilities, hobbies and passions outside of work are important, regardless of whether or not they're related to parenting. 

Ultimately, it shouldn't be up to employees to determine who 'deserves' time off.

In the comments, many people criticized corporate America for making it impossible for Linda to be granted more time off to cope and grieve her loss. In many cases, employees receive a minimum of just three days of bereavement leave for the death of an immediate family member. However, many companies offer up to two weeks of paid leave.

“The idea that coworkers should be sacrificing their days off to cover the inequities of the company is...exploitative," one person wrote in the comments. "That ain't your concern. It's the employers,” one user pointed out.


In this case, it was not the woman’s fault that the grieving mother could not have the difficult day off. It was the company for not granting her the day off in the first place so she had to depend on her coworkers. 

RELATED: Manager Loses It & Threatens To Fire Employee After They Refuse To Come In And Work On Their Day Off

Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.