Why Working Parents Are Paranoid About Getting Fired

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working parentThe baby’s screaming, the dishwasher’s on the fritz—and you’re panicked your boss will give you the boot when you walk in late to another staff meeting. Sound familiar?

New research from Bright Horizons suggests many working parents fear their family responsibilities will sabotage their careers. In a survey of more than 1,000 adults with at least one kid under 18, nearly one-third said they worry they’ll be fired for taking care of a family matter. Indeed, about a third of working parents say they would turn down a higher-paying job or a pay raise if it meant they could secure reliable child care.

Interestingly, the research suggests it’s not just moms who are struggling to juggle their professional and family lives. As many as 46% of dads say that child care stresses them out during the workday, compared to 52% of mothers.

So how are parents dealing when they need to take a half-day to attend their kid’s school play? Nearly a quarter of survey respondents say they’ve lied to their boss about family responsibilities.

This research comes on the heels of the White House Summit on Working Families, where President Obama presented several proposals to make work-life balance easier to achieve, including a “right to request” flexible work policy.

It’s been more than 20 years since the government passed legislation targeted at working families, and right now it’s unclear just how much leeway employers offer the parents on their staff. A report released at the summit found that fewer than one-third of full-time employees say they have flexible work schedules, according to The Washington Post.

The good news is that other research suggests companies are more open than ever to daily flexibility. So before you freak out about getting fired for bringing your son to the dentist on a Monday morning, consider explaining the situation to your superior—her response just might surprise you.