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Working Mom Written Up For Using 3 'Unplanned' Sick Days In 6 Months — Despite Having Earned The PTO

Photo: Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock
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A working mother named Jordan Fairchild tearfully admitted that it's a struggle to balance a full-time job while caring for her children and being there as a parent.

In a TikTok video, Fairchild shared that she was reprimanded by the higher-ups at her job because of how many sick days she'd used in the last several months when she or her children were sick, despite having accrued the time off.

She was given a 'verbal warning' for using 3 'unplanned' sick days in the last 6 months.

Fairchild explained that she just had her annual review at work, and while the review itself was fine, she got a verbal warning that she had to sign. The warning was because Fairchild had used three unplanned sick days over the past six months — two of them being because her children were sick and one because she was.

   

   

"They basically threw the book at me and said this is our attendance policy and because you had three unplanned absences, you have to sign this document," Fairchild recalled. "I think this plays a bigger role for me, working in corporate America and having children, that I can't even use my paid time off that I've accrued to be able to watch my children if they're sick."

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Unfortunately, Fairchild isn't alone in feeling frustrated with the lack of understanding that exists in corporate America for working mothers.

Many of them feel as if they need to choose between a career and motherhood. According to the Pew Research Center's 2020 survey, over a quarter of mothers with children younger than 18 at home said that the best work arrangement for them at that time would be not working for pay at all.

Compared to working fathers, mothers were more likely to admit to facing a variety of professional challenges.

For example, 54% of working moms said they felt like they could not "give 100%" at work because they were balancing work and parenting responsibilities, compared to 43% of working dads. More mothers also felt that they had to reduce their work hours because of parental responsibilities.

Working Mom Says She Was Written Up For Using 3 Unplanned Sick Days In 6 MonthsPhoto: George Rudy / Shutterstock

To make matters worse, Fairchild was told that if her child is sick, she needs to have a "backup plan," rather than using her own sick days. Fairchild pointed out that this rule is flawed because daycares don't allow sick children to stay.

"It's just a verbal warning," she said through tears. But as a woman working in corporate America, she questioned how it is fair for her to be reprimanded for using her paid time off to watch her sick child

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Fairchild admitted that she doesn't think she's overreacting by being incredibly upset with this work policy.

“I’m trying not to gaslight myself and say, 'Maybe I'm just freaking out or being dramatic for no reason,'” she added. “But I don’t think it’s fair.”

She explained that this type of situation worries her about the future because her children are everything, and she doesn't want to have to prioritize her job over taking care of them when they get sick. She also noted that she provided her company with a doctor's note to prove her whereabouts. 

   

   

Fairchild insisted that she wanted to talk about this incident online so that other mothers out there would understand that they're not alone in feeling as if the corporate world doesn't make room for mothers. It's something that needs to change, Fairchild remarked.

Planning sick days is unrealistic. Life is unpredictable and things happen — children get sick and parents need to stay home and take care of them. You can't plan when you catch a cold. 

Companies need to realize that situations like this don't contribute to employees feeling safe, respected, or supported in their work environments. At the end of the day, parenting will always take priority over other things, especially work. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.