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Barnsley Businesswoman Risks Wrath Of Mothers After National Article

Friday August 9 2013

Jane Robinson Jane Robinson

A BARNSLEY businesswoman is leading the way in flexible working rights for childless women - but has found herself in a fiery debate with angry mothers.

Jane Robinson, 41, featured last week in a Daily Mail article which said childless women are working longer hours to cover for working mothers.

It prompted more than 760 comments - some from angry mums.

The report said single childless women are bearing the brunt of the 'long hours' culture as they're the first to be asked to work late and struggle to get time off, for example, to care for an elderly relative.

Jane is co-founder and director of laser cutting and engraving firm Cutting Technologies based at Zenith Business Park on Whaley Road, Barugh Green.

A single woman without children, who has worked in male-dominated engineering companies for a decade, Jane said: "I was always the one asked to work late. Children seemed to be the trump card which aces everything else. None of the things I might want to do could possibly be as important as being a parent."

Jane has now been invited on to ITV breakfast show Daybreak to share her views.

When she started her own business ten years ago, Jane made a company policy allowing every one of her 32 staff the right to ask for flexible working, whatever their circumstances.

She said: "It's difficult in a small business and it does depend on what job people are doing. We can't grant every request but we work hard to judge every case on its own merits.

"I think childless women are a bit scared to speak out as it's perceived as speaking against mums. But it's not that at all - it's about the spirit of fairness for everyone."

What do you think? Have your say below.

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Reply Posted by Mark on Friday August 9 2013 at 11:53
I've noticed in the work area that people with kids get an easier time when it comes to time off and going home early etc and the ones that don't have kids have to fill in to cover..It's not all the time but you can see it.
There is an exception that 1 or 2 will use the kids as an excuse for work ..

Reply Posted by Gail on Friday August 9 2013 at 12:10
Well done Jane for speaking up. Everything she has said about using children as a reason for needing time off work is perfectly true, then someone else has to cover for them.

Reply Posted by Geoff Thomas on Friday August 9 2013 at 12:23
She's absolutely right...it's just not PC to say it, sadly. In the same way as it's certainly not PC to say that small business owners are mindful of the likelihood of their young female employees taking maternity leave and leaving them in the lurch with huge potential costs and problems. It might not be PC to say that it happens - or even that it's necessary - but having worked in small companies, it certainly happens and I don't blame them at all...
If and when the government legislates to cushion employers financially and organisationally against their younger female employees taking maternity leave, then this will maybe change?

Reply Posted by beep beep on Friday August 9 2013 at 12:33
There is a book called Willing Slaves which talks about people who put their jobs firt instead of their home life ( amongst other things). In my opinion you should work to live not live to work. It seems that all the people who choose not to have kids throw themselves into their work probably because their life is hollow and let's face it they have nothing better to do.
Life is not about work it is about family and friends. So to all you people who agree with this sad woman, my sympathy goes out to you.
If a small business cannot deal with legal obligations that have been hard won, such as maternity leave, then they should not be in business. It is not PC to dismiss women because they decide to have families, without women doing so there would be no people to work in 20 years. It is disgusting that childless people who earn loads more money during their lifetime and have generally better careers and the best jobs should whine because some people would rather spend time with their families instead of doing overtime. jealousy springs to mind.
As for you Geoff you are a typical stuck in the mud bloke. You opinions are outdated and you need to re educate yourself. Any of you people above expressing such views in interview would fail to get the job and rightly so.

Reply Posted by Hannah on Friday August 9 2013 at 15:39
If you read the article correctly that is not what this woman is saying. She isn't saying she would dismiss someone just because they decide to have families she is saying everything should be fair, for example if working mums get flexible working why shouldn't everyone else as long as there job is covered? Luckily for me my company now does adhere to this however many others don't and just because you don't have children doesn't mean you don't have other priorities in life that may warrant flexible working. I do understand some of your points however if you read the article in more detail what you are arguing against isn't really her opinion anyway. It is extremely rude of you to suggest other people are uneducated and outdated when you seem to be arguing for arguing sake, Geoff is pointing out his opinion which I'm not sure if you are aware if your little bubble however everyone is allowed an opinion whether right or wrong in your view.

Reply Posted by lisa on Sunday August 11 2013 at 15:38
Well said beep beep, totally agree with all you have said :-)

Reply Posted by working mum of 3 on Friday August 9 2013 at 12:44
I have always worked full time whilst having my family. There has been occasions when I have needed time off due to the kids and my colleagues will have had to cover. But on the flip side I will always cover when my colleagues need it REGARDLESS of reason. I fint the comment of trump card extreamly insulting. Credit to this lady for offering flexible working arrangements for all bit isnt this what should happen anyway.

Reply Posted by beep beep on Friday August 9 2013 at 13:34
Totally agree with you working mum, people have thought hard to get fairness in the workplace for women and let us be honest and say women still do not get it.

It should be that flexible working is offered to all instead of cheap business owners expecting everyone to work evenings, nights or weekends or overtime for next to nothing. Same with maternity and paternity leave it should be for both and to be honest if childless people do not like it then tough.

In all of my previous jobs I have found that many a childless person takes time off on evenings and weekends to go out drinking or sick time with hangovers. Plus many childless people have money for holidays and always want to take it in what they know to be school holidays. Which is just silly as it costs them more.

If they want Christmas off then it is usually to get drunk not to see family.

Reply Posted by Hannah on Friday August 9 2013 at 15:44
You are very judgemental aren't you! If someone wants time off regardless of whether they have children or not, what business is that of yours especially to judge 'If they want Christmas off then it is usually to get drunk not to see family' as far as I was aware you have no right to judge on why people want time off. The argument is everyone regardless of home circumstances to be able to have flexible working time, all I have read in your comment above is bitchy comments about childless people getting it better than others and that they should like it or lump it if they have a problem with parents getting the better end then 'tough'! I personally (again opinion) think you ought to re-read and think before you post utter nonsense.

Reply Posted by Geoff Thomas on Friday August 9 2013 at 15:15
I just knew that I'd be accused of being a dinosaur for my non-PC views! Some people work and some people have careers, hard-won through education and training. And not all SME companies can cope with the legislation surrounding maternity/paternity leave or with the plethora of 'stuff' surrounding employee law. If you have never worked in nor owned a company with a relatively small number of employees, then how can you know the difficulties that can be caused through thoughtless legislation. You sound, to me, like a public sector worker with a good sprinkling of union work and little enthusiasm for people with careers or jobs that they enjoy doing. I guess it takes all sorts...and I'm most certainly not stuck in the mud. Enjoying a fulfilling and enjoyable role in my twilight years more like. And I am a member of a union too...!
And your comments are a massive insult to the many women - and men - who for whatever reason can't have families of their own. Think what you say, 'beep beep' before you open your mouth...

Reply Posted by Hannah on Friday August 9 2013 at 15:47
hear hear!!

Reply Posted by Hannah on Friday August 9 2013 at 15:47
... to the part about 'beep beep' in any case :)

Reply Posted by Stevo on Friday August 9 2013 at 17:56
I concur.

Reply Posted by proud mother on Friday August 9 2013 at 16:44
it takes 24hrs a day dedication,stamina,courage,and a lifetime of commitment to be a good mother not all women have got that but it doesn,t mean their selfish,it means they are admitting their not up to the job.the most rewarding job i have ever done is to be a mother and will continue to be so 24hrs a day untill the day i die x

Reply Posted by Becks on Friday August 9 2013 at 23:56
I am childless...happy and fail to turn into work if ill NOT hungover. I ask for Christmas off every year and FAIL as people with children have priority... Christmas with my own family (parents, grandparents, partner and sibling) is important to me but instead of complaining (and feeling awful incase they make some child miss their mum at xmas) i work hard xmas day and warm up my turkey dinner in the evening. Childless people do get the brunt of crappy hours but at the same time at least the kids out there are growing up seeing plenty of their parents. I see both sides but hate how mums are quick to judge and assume childless people are jealous and unhappy...no were not were just fed up of unsociable hours...everyones lives are just as important as each other with or without children!

Reply Posted by Sarah on Sunday August 11 2013 at 14:19
Same old.... Childless women choice or no choice are under a no win situation. I applied for help with a new boiler a couple of months ago, tick all boxes to qualify but because I've had zero depends all three I applied for said no.

Reply Posted by Emma on Sunday August 11 2013 at 14:27
Stupid, I'm sure if us mothers got extra hours cos we needed it to raise our children we would still get grief in a no win situation. It's people like her why a lot of mothers stay at home. Why would they want to go to work where they are going to feel they can't ask for time off. Bare in mind children need attention and caring for. Clearly she doesn't have kids or she would be able to appreciate the value they are in a persons life. Stupid woman wants to get a grip!!

Reply Posted by Miss.N on Sunday August 11 2013 at 14:33
That is rubbish Becks! Good luck in getting a Christmas off though. I completely agree with you; it isn't fair at all. Having kids or not having kids, it is a choice but doesn't make you any better than anyone else or more deserving in my opinion.

Reply Posted by jane on Sunday August 11 2013 at 14:50
Childless? okay I guess I fit that description, albeit only because my child rearing days have passed havin been a single working mum I juggled two jobs to fit in with raising a small child and am none too sure that mums who take jobs these days ave really thought long and hard about provisions for childcare , hence take jobs which they know involves working shifts and weekends on a rota and then expect to work 10 til 3 and everyone else to work around them , this is so unfair as everyone has commitments i.e grandchildren ageing parents , Think again mums and be realistic and practical about the feasibility of working such hours. Am right alongside this lady Bravo ! Am brassed off at working shifts nobody else wants to do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply Posted by Working dad of 2 on Sunday August 11 2013 at 15:11
I think that flexible working opportunities should be an 'option' for everyone in the workplace regardless of whether you have children or not. Im a working dad of 2, my partner also works at a school so of course her hours are fixed and within term time. That means that with the use of flexible working I can work late shifts and weekends to work around her shift pattern allowing me to look after my children without dumping them off in childcare costing me an arm and a leg. It also means that we dont have to resort to quitting work and becoming solely dependent on benefits to fund our lifestyle. I personally disagree with children being the 'trump card' as in my workplace everyone is asked about overtime and shift changes equally, and on the same note not everyone with children has their request for flexible working granted. Its all based on the needs of the business and each application is assessed on its own merits. Basically its a good idea as it's keeping people IN WORK.. if people dont work they get slated.. if they do work when possible for them it seems they still get slated.

Reply Posted by dd on Sunday August 11 2013 at 15:14
well said jane.

Reply Posted by proud mother on Sunday August 11 2013 at 19:31
what is wrong with people,you either want people with kids to go out to work and support their kids or you don't.if you have children then at some point you are going to need to take time off work stop bloody moaning and just accept that,or what do you want? al tell you what everyone stop having children hey,the human race will die out but what the hell,at least people who dont want kids can pick and choose their holidays and will never have to help out a fellow worker.

Reply Posted by Jackie on Sunday August 11 2013 at 22:48
After reading the comments above I have to say that I feel like working parents are being put across as people that expect special treatment and allowances just because they have a child. My partner and I both work full time and neither of us expect to be treated differently or expect to be given any extra allowances just because we have a child. Any time off we ever need is requested and if it is not accepted we deal with it and make other arrangements. Having worked for a few companies I feel everyone, regardless of any children, needs time off and shift allowances for any personal reasons somethimes and I think most companies respect this.

Reply Posted by Chris on Monday August 12 2013 at 01:47
I am 42 and childless by choice. I am totally behind the comments made by this business women. I am studying. I also run with an an athletics club here in London three times a week. I work in the public sector. I refuse to cover workers that have kids. Their choice. I have 'carried them' in the past. No more. Their kids, their problem. I agree with Geoff.

Reply Posted by Chris on Monday August 12 2013 at 01:54
@beepbeep Yes we childless love to go out and get drunk. Preferable to having revolting screaming kids. But of course your kids are the centre of the universe.

Reply Posted by chris on Monday August 12 2013 at 02:54
@beepbeep - Childless folk taking time off at Christmas to get drunk? Yeah probably have to listen to you going on about your brats all year.

Reply Posted by proud mother on Monday August 12 2013 at 10:31
who the hell do you think you are chris,yes our kids are the centre of our universe. dont you dare slate people who have got the guts and commitment to have children,just because you are too selfish to want to share your life with a child doesn't mean that the people who do dont pull their weight.and thank god you dont have kids,with that attitude you would be a terrible parent, thank god you will never know what it feels like when your child puts their arms around you and says i love you mummy. you will never know what unconditional love feels like,people like you dont deserve to know what it feels like.

Reply Posted by nic on Monday August 12 2013 at 10:41
jesus Christ!! chris maybe you don't have children because you don't deserve them with that attitude, if you did ever have them then ide feel sorry for the mother to the child and the child. your a pig!! slating us women because we have kids, how the hell do you think your parents feel having a kid like you?? are your parents stupid for having you??? YES!! you pathetic excuse for a human being

Reply Posted by T on Monday August 12 2013 at 11:05
Married and Child Less. I do have 2 step children of my own though. After reading all this I can safely say I am offended by some of the comments on here regarding us with no children. I don't go out to get drunk over Christmas and I certainly don't feel I have a void to fill or am I jealous of people with kids.... nope. It is all individual choice as far as I am aware.... might be wrong. I do agree on occasion to picking up slack of some people with children dependent on the situation if It is valid and has to be done with no other option go for it its a priority in your life that needs addressing! what is the other option leaving your kids at home!? I should hope not so this for me is acceptable however we have all worked with people who use it as an excuse to leave early or come in late (shopping bags with tagged goods is usually a give away) . However I do expect people to understand if I have to leave work early for something that is a priority it my life (no I don't mean an early start in the pub) but this seems unacceptable to most employers. Something I have to live with as I cant see it changing.
@proud mum I am not sure how you meant the comment of us being too selfish to share our lives with children if it is meant nastily then why would you say such a think with that intent? I wouldn't say it about you but if its a general observation then I agree at this moment in time I am too selfish to have a child of my own I like far flung holiday, nice cars, hobbies and all that and do not feel I should share or give that up at this point in my life. This may change but however I am proud to say yes I am too selfish right now to have a child as it would be irresponsible of me to have one when I feel this way.
Flexi time should be obtainable by all and individual situations assessed.
Not wanting to argue just wanted my say as a late 20's married for 4 years childless woman.

Reply Posted by chris on Thursday August 15 2013 at 11:18
@proudmother & @nic So I am selfish because I have decided I don't want to have kids? My comment was a reaction to the posters like beepbeep that said that childless people want Christmas off work so they could go and get drunk. I find that comment very very insulting. By the way, I CHOSE not to have kids. My body, my decision, my life.