Supporting Working Parents
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Supporting Working Parents

While great strides have been made for working parents in the construction industry, more needs to be done to support them

By Jessie Cook, Local 68 Steward

How hard do you think it is to be a working parent in the construction industry? It might be harder than you think.

Between juggling work, your household, your children, bills, dinner, family affairs, grocery shopping, sickness, education, sports, and events, it can often feel like the responsibilities never end.

In recent years, due to the rising cost of living and childcare costs, families are increasingly finding themselves in the predicament of having to choose whether one parent stays at home, or both parents work and childcare costs must be taken into consideration.

Employers continue to require more hours from their employees, and consistent and skilled workers—while also wanting to hire more women in the field. Yet how do they expect to get all of the above when women in the field are wanting equal compensation, sick days for their children, and support while getting the training to become an equal?

It’s one thing to become a professional at a skilled trade that requires long hours, grueling tasks, and competitive coworkers. But to do this all while being a parent to young children is becoming increasingly difficult.

There are still many workers who believe women on the construction site are a hinderance or a bummer. But women are slowly paving the way for a better work-life. Employers are seeing that to keep these hardworking parents, they need to offer more flexible work arrangements, paid sick days, and a supportive workplace.

For example, offering better working hours, such as shorter long-haul shifts (more 2/1, 2/2 rather than the 3/1, 4+ weeks onsite) would benefit all workers, help achieve a better work-life, and support our mental health.

While offsite support, benefits, and counselling options have grown in the construction industry over the past few years, there is still much more that needs to be done to support all workers in this industry.

4 Ways to Support Working Parents

  1. If you see a working parent struggling, talk to them! A lot of parents have so much more going on behind the scenes. Communication can go a long way to understanding their current struggle.
  2. Stick up for them! Maybe a supervisor isn’t as close to them and doesn’t know what’s going on. Be that voice to help them understand why they’re sidetracked/need to take a call/asking for a day off, etc.
  3. Be more forgiving if you’re in a position of power. I know we have deadlines to meet, but for the well-being and motivation of the entire crew, sometimes you need to take one step back so you can take two or three ahead!
  4. Offer tangible supports, especially to single parents with young children. If you know about a daycare, youth program, or local resources, let them know about it.

If you are a working parent or single parent in construction, I see you. Please ask for help when you need it and communicate your needs with your employer or your CLAC representative.

If you have a sick child, we’ve all been there. Someone will cover a shift or allow you a lessened workload. If you’re experiencing issues with a child or partner, counselling options may be available through CLAC.

If you’re struggling with longer shifts and time management, communicate with your employer, CLAC representative, partner, or family members. This may lead to other options to ease your daily demands. Maybe you do need to take time off or take a leave if it means returning in a more productive mindset. Don’t overlook the option of paid stress leave.

If you’ve brought these issues up with your support team and you’re still not making progress, reach out to your CLAC steward or representative, and they will support you and help you find solutions to your challenges.

Don’t give up, working parents! We’ve got this!

Jessie Cook has been in the heavy civil construction industry as an equipment operator for seven years. She is passionate about workplace development, safety, and the fair treatment of all, particularly for young women in the trades. For more tips from Jessie, follow her on Instagram at @clac_jessie

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