Facebook Workers Who Aren't Parents See Unfairness

Expanded leave to help care for children leaves other employees feeling left out
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2020 10:40 AM CDT
Facebook Workers Who Aren't Parents See Unfairness
Rebecca Biernat watches her son Seamus Keenan, 6, take a class online at their home in San Francisco in March.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

When Sheryl Sandberg held a videoconference with employees last month, more than 2,000 workers wanted to ask the Facebook boss where the help was for people who aren't parents. In keeping with the industry's reputation for top benefits, Facebook had stepped in quickly when the pandemic shutdown hit, offering extra time off to parents suddenly dealing with closed schools and day care centers. Some employees without children now are wondering where their extra help is, the New York Times reports, sometimes saying they've been left with greater burdens at work. At the same time, employees who are parents say their colleagues don't always get what they're going through. Even the process of getting permission to take leave seems to go more smoothly for parents, one employee said.

Sandberg said she "disagreed with the premise of the question" about inequity, pointing out that everyone received a larger bonus this year and $1,000 to buy equipment for working at home. And a parent-employee argued on an internal site that the pandemic leaves aren't exactly vacation, per the Times. "Please don’t make me and other parents at Facebook the outlet for your understandable frustration, exhaustion and anger in response to the hardships you're experiencing due to Covid-19," she wrote. Other tech companies face similar issues; Google and Microsoft offered similar paid leave to parents. A former human resources chief at Google said the complaints from nonparents show "a lack of empathy and a sense of entitlement." But some employees wrote that living alone is especially difficult now, too, and that Facebook seems less worried about them. (More Facebook stories.)

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