Motherhood confers upon a woman the mandate to raise her child responsibly. This process influences the way she is perceived both at the workplace and in society. Thus, from the viewpoint of the community, appropriate motherhood can be viewed from the lens of two different categories of women; that is, the one who works from home and the one who fulfills her maternal duties away from home. That society makes it admirable for women to sacrifice their jobs at the expense of rearing children leaves mothers in a dilemma. Nonetheless, in some situations, the necessities of life compel women to combine work and taking care of children. For instance, a single mother not only works to financially maintain her position but also strives to effectively give the best care to her kids. Notably, it is undeniable that children need quality time and attention from their parents for better cognitive development; hence, it is a social injustice to separate mothers from their children because of job security. Moreover, it is irrational for mothers who cannot financially sustain their families to lose their jobs for the sake of child care. Therefore, it is reasonable for all employers to consider establishing on-site child care to fulfill the necessity of securing a mother’s job and ensuring the best care for children, particularly for those that should be breastfed regularly. This work reviews evidence in the literature on the growing significance of employer-sponsored on-site child care.
Working Mothers and Employment
While it may be reasonable for mothers to work and conveniently attend to their kids at the place of work, the role of women in child care and employment is deeply rooted in history. The rush of married women to the workforce is at odds with the traditional narrative that women ought to choose between family and career. Initially, paid work was inclined towards men’s employment within the public service, and women were associated with family and home. However, in the late 1970s, the “working mother” gained popularity, and this has since been seen as a feminist ideal, thus, fraught with controversy (Heather & Elizabeth, 2008). Over time, improved access to education for women earned them more working opportunities in public spheres, thus giving rise to the liberal thought that they would revolutionize society’s perception of women and motherhood. However, in contemporary society, feminist movements have emerged to challenge the notion that women should be equated with home and family (Heather & Elizabeth, 2008). Specifically, women advocates have negotiated for various changes, especially with regard to women’s working hours and family leaves. Currently, there are still many observers who condemn working mothers as selfish and unnatural. The critique may be attributed to the fact that society has been trained to associate women with caring for children. The dominant culture cannot be applied in the present setting where economic implications require women to be at the workplace while also caring for their children (For employers to provide a supporting system that is suitable and neutral from the society’s point of view, it is essential to set up child care facilities in places of work so that women can overcome the stigma of being tagged as irresponsible mothers.
Breastfeeding as an Essential Aspect of Child Care
While the Family and Medical Leave Act require United States’ employers to allow mothers to take off up to 12 weeks for pregnancy or child-rearing, this may not be in the best interest of a child who requires breastfeeding for a prolonged period. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least six months (Olagunju, 2017). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast milk contains nutrients that are prerequisites for the health and survival of the baby (Olagunju, 2017). The organization indicates that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months are 15 times more likely to succumb to pneumonia (Olagunju, 2017). As such, WHO estimates that approximately 220,000 babies could be saved each year through exclusive breastfeeding (Olagunju, 2017). Given that a baby should be breastfed at least seven times a day, it is practically impossible for mothers to accomplish this fete if they have to balance between work and taking care of their children (Olagunju, 2017). In addition, it is more frustrating because maternity leave is too short and could be unpaid. Thus, to strike a balance between the baby’s health and the mother’s job security, it is vital to set up on-site child care facilities where babies can be conveniently breastfed by their mothers. This way, the organization increases job retention while promoting health, which is a basic universal need. Through policy implementation, it is relevant to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed at the workplace because many low-income mothers face entrenched barriers to care for their children at the workplace. The problem is more acute for African American women who have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rate (Echols, 2019). Thus, the way forward is for the employer to be on the front line in championing a woman’s needs.
Daycare Program at the Workplace Poses Positive Impacts on both the Employee and the Employer
Benefits to Employer
- A workplace child care facility is a formidable approach towards increasing an employee’s loyalty; hence, it is suitable for any type of organization.
- On-site child care is a performance asset for mothers. According to a Babilou study, 84 percent of mothers affirmed that they would be more productive and less stressed if their workplace had a daycare facility (Echols, 2019).
- Improvement of the company’s brand image. Notably, an organization with a child care facility promotes gender equality by providing essential support to women. Consequently, the employer’s brand as socially responsible plays an essential role in the recruiting and hiring process.
- Mitigation of employee absenteeism. On many occasions, mothers skip work to attend to their babies. Creating a daycare center at the workplace would partially solve this issue, thereby reducing the tension between employees and the employer.
Benefits to the Employees
- It is easier for mothers to access their babies.
- Schedules in the daycare facility are adapted to the organization’s plan.
- Mothers can effectively cater to their children’s well-being while working, which reduces anxiety and enables them to work effectively.
Strategies that can be Adopted by Organizations to Set up a Child Care Program
Organizations can choose from the various available options to offer a child care program. For instance, large corporations might opt for a full daycare facility that strictly serves employees. In case of financial constraints, the organization can partner with a daycare service provider or a nearby school to access the services at an affordable rate. Another option encompasses partnering with nearby companies to open a joint daycare facility. Moreover, signing an agreement with a preferred local daycare to provide the services at a discounted rate would prove economical. The ultimate goal is for the employer to create a convenient environment where mothers can freely care for babies without encountering harsh economic or social implications.
The need to support a working mother is well recognized, and employers could join in the supportive role by setting on-site daycare facilities. History is in opposition to the rise of a woman and only associates her with home and family. However, feminists’ hopes are changing the narrative, and working mothers are better placed to pursue their ambitions both as successful mothers and as reliable employees. Since the well-being of a baby depends on a mother’s availability and quality of care, establishing a daycare facility at the workplace is in the best interest of a mother and her child. Specifically, she can effectively breastfeed her baby for a better health outcome without risking her job. On the other hand, it is advantageous to both the employees and the employer. For instance, while employers will improve their brand image and reputation, employees will meet their babies’ expectations without anxiety and stress. Partnering with nearby daycare facilities and signing an agreement with a preferred service provider are some of the ways in which businesses can start a daycare facility. Notwithstanding the existing negative perception of a working mother, employers can make a difference.
Echols, A. (2019). The Challenges of Breastfeeding as a Black Person. American Civil Liberties Union. https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/pregnancy-and-parenting-discrimination/challenges-breastfeeding-black-person.
Heather, D., & Elizabeth, P. (2008). Locating Mothers: How Cultural Debates About Stay-at-Home Versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home. Journal of Family Issues, 29, 4, 437-464.
Olagunju, L. (2017). The importance of Exclusive Breastfeeding. Healthy Newborn Network. https://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/blog/the-importance-of-exclusive-breastfeeding/.
Poduval, J., & Poduval, M. (2009). Working mothers: how much working, how many mothers, and where is the womanhood?