When Mommy goes to work:
Three working moms talk about 'The Kids' & 'Flex Time'
The company is expanding various policies to help employees strike a balance between work and family; particularly by providing childcare support, including ‘the Kids’, a daycare facility which opened in 2015 and the introducing ‘Flex Time’ in August to allow single parent households or parents who both work to freely adjust commute hours. What kinds of changes have the working moms who send their children to ‘the Kids’ and use ‘Flex Time’ actually experienced? Associates Son Sun young from B2C Support team, Cho Hye young from Capital VOC Center, and Chae Su Jeong from Infra team have been invited to the interview to share their experiences.
All of you are sending your children to ‘the Kids’?
Cho: My child is five years old and joined ‘the Kids’ in 2015, when it first opened. There were so many applicants in the beginning so I was lucky to get the last place left. Previously I sent my kid to a daycare center in the apartment complex, but I had to drop him off at least by 7:30 in order to get to work on time. There are not many facilities that start that early in the morning, so I had a really hard time commuting. Now I feel more at ease because my child is nearby and I can always go and visit if I have to.
Son: My child is in the Petal class for five year olds. I used to send my child to a daycare center near home, but I got the feeling that it didn’t feed the kids properly despite it being a public daycare facility. My kid doesn’t have a big appetite, yet after coming home he started to say he’s hungry. The center provides a weekly menu but the parents can’t know for sure what or how much food is being served. So from this year, I’m sending my child to ‘the Kids’. It’s more reliable because I can even see the food tray through the mobile app. There are inevitable cases where parents have to pick up the kid at late hours, but in the past there weren’t many parents who work late so I was wary of that. These days most parents pick up their children after work so there’s no more stress about that.
Chae: Both of you are much more experienced than me (laugh). My daughter is in the Seed class for 1 year olds. I was 3rd in line on the wait list, but fortunately got admission right before the program began. I heard that employees whose spouse also works have better odds of getting a spot, but I assume most applicants are double income earners anyway. What I like the most about ‘the Kids’ is that I can see what my child is doing in real time through a smartphone, which is a big relief for moms with young children.
Although this is a newsletter for employees, you don’t have to highlight only the positive aspects. (laugh)
Cho: Actually these maternity protection measures in place are fairly new, which is why I think we’re not at a point where we can say that something is not sufficient. In terms of work life, things are a lot different from when we didn’t have such policies in place.
Son: Last summer, ‘the Kids’ in HQ3 had made a pool for the children. My child goes to ‘the Kids’ in the FKI building, and one day the company provided a shuttle bus to bring the children to the pool, let them play then took them back to the FKI building. During company tours, kids from HQ3 can come and play, which I think is really great. There were no places left in ‘the Kids’ in HQ3 when I sent my first child. Now that I’m pregnant with my second child, I really want to get a spot in the HQ3. (laugh)
That’s not nearly a complaint. Do all of you use ‘Flex Time’ too?
Cho: I didn’t use it until now, but beginning from last week I came into the office at 8 am for a few days. My child takes extracurricular classes, but I didn’t even have a chance to see who the instructor was. I took advantage of ‘Flex Time’ to actually go and see how the class went; it made my kid very happy too.
Chae: I come to the office at around 9 am every day. My husband leaves home quite early, so he can’t take the child to daycare. Thanks to ‘Flex Time’ I can take her in the morning, and my husband brings her home after work.
Does additional 30 minutes really help you with childcare?
All: Of course! It makes a huge difference! (laugh)
Chae: If working hours begin at 8:30 then it means we have to arrive at least by 8:20. However if I decide to come by 9:00 but then I’m a little late, thanks to ‘Flex Time’ I can simply stay that much longer. You never know what’s going to happen in the morning. Sometimes children get sick all of a sudden. If ‘Flex Time’ was not available then such happenings can delay things and I’d be late to the office, but now I’m less anxious.
Son: I used to take advantage of ‘Flex Time’ but now that I’m pregnant, I’m exempt from working overtime thanks to the maternity protection program. It adjusts the working hours for expecting mothers so that they come at 8:30 and leave the office at 5:30. Without any registration process, you just need to report it to the team lead.
Cho, Chae: There was no such thing when we were pregnant, that’s great. (laugh)
While you are using policies such as ‘Flex Time’ and Overtime exemptions for pregnant employees, are there instances where you don’t feel comfortable about using them?
Son: During work hours, I do my best but I still don’t feel comfortable about leaving work early so I try to leave quietly. I do feel that for employees who are single, it may be something difficult to comprehend, under current social perceptions. So don’t you leave quietly too? You can’t outright say ‘See you’ then just leave.
Cho: I agree. I feel sorry when I’m the only one leaving early while other colleagues are still working. Still, my department encourages employees to use ‘Flex Time’. The team lead, even though he’s a guy he uses ‘Flex Time’ and encourages the team members to use it too. So generally I think people are quite considerate and understanding. One thing to note is that we share when we plan to use ‘Flex Time’ on a weekly basis.
Son: Fortunately, my team is very sympathetic toward using ‘Flex Time’ but I did hear that the situation differs depending on the team. When there aren’t many female employees in the team, you have no choice but to be careful and hesitant about using ‘Flex Time’.
Compared to Capital VOC Center and the B2C Support team, there are relatively less female employees in Infra team, right?
Chae: I am the only one using ‘Flex Time’ in my team. But ‘Flex Time’ in principal, is open to male employees too as long as their spouse is also working. So I told one of my colleagues to use it, but he said he can’t.
Cho: That’s right. It seems that male employees find it hard to use it.
That’s a pity given that childcare is not something that only falls on female employees.
Chae: So I think it would be great if we all could use ‘Flex Time’. If everyone, including employees with children can use it, wouldn’t it be much better?
[Source : Hyundai Card/Capital/Commercial Monthly Newsletter, Inside H]