O' Canada! You brought us poutine, Coffee Crisps, Drake, and now the term "Work-to-Rule." For all the Americans that don't know what that means, it's basically the Canadian version of stay in your lane... employment-wise.
Women are fighting for an increase in wages, maternity leave, and gender specific workers' rights. We face companies with at-will employment that can fire us at any time and for any reason, and we face employers that are not parent friendly. This basically comes down to a lack of job security and income stability. Urban Millennial working mothers are hit hard by this. Many of them (including myself) are living paycheck to paycheck, and the work output is greater than the input. Unfortunately for many of us, it is hard to enforce Work-to-Rule.
"Work-to-rule is an industrial action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and precisely follow safety or other regulations in order to cause a slowdown, rather than to serve their purposes."
Applause to Wikipedia for this definition. As to which, I think it is accurate and I like it. Merriam-Webster defines it as ": the practice by workers of refusing to do any work that is not strictly required as a part of their jobs in order to protest something (such as unfair working conditions)." Either way it goes, the definitions are correct, but can hardly be enforced.
Employers have learned how to take advantage of a bad situation. Working mothers are struggling and it is partly due to embracing the role of an active parent. Being an attentive parent can be grounds for termination. Taking time off to care for a sick child, and not being able to put in overtime or work certain shifts due to child care scheduling/availability are common circumstances that affect an employer's view of a mother's work ethic.
Allowing a Millennial working mother to make her child/family a priority is a debt to an employer. The mother owes her employer for being mother-friendly. Ta-da! Employers taking advantage of a bad situation. They know that there are limited choices for Millennial working mothers (depending on the field) in which their employer will be understanding of their roles and responsibilities as a mother. This leads to mothers working in fear of losing their job because who else will provide you with the "benefit" of making your child a priority?!
"I think someone’s finally (and successfully) called [Sheryl Sandberg] out on [her] theory that because [she], as a high level professional can leave [her] office every day at 5 p.m. to be with [her] kids, that the rest of us average women are even able to toy with that idea without the fear of losing our jobs" (PunditMom, June 2012).
Our jobs work us to the bone and burn us out. We work beyond our job description, assigned tasks, and responsibilities all so we can be seen as assets because we know that we are replaceable and finding a mom-friendly employer that provides adequate benefits and pays well... Well, it's difficult. Working through lunch, not taking (or being given) breaks, and working in unhealthy employment positions is what many are facing.
One Millennial working mother that I spoke with (remaining un-named for specific reasons), informed me of a medical issue that she had. She was in the ER one night and still returned to work the next morning because she could not afford to take the time off. Personally, I understand where she is coming from. Constantly having to prove that you're an asset to the company. Not being able to take time off due to the fact that wages are not high enough to afford the cost of taking a day off. So, how can we enforce Work-to-Rule without repercussions from our employers? It starts by knowing our workers' rights and fighting for gender specific workers' rights.
The National Women's Law Center has useful information regarding pregnancy and parenting discrimination at work. Some other good reads include:
Managing Pregnancy And Parenting In The American Workplace by Maria Shriver
Single Moms and Welfare Woes: A Higher-Education Dilemma by Amanda Freeman
U.S. Paid Family Leave Versus The Rest Of The World, In 2 Disturbing Charts by Adam Peck & Bryce Covert
Get a good insight on what's going on. The above articles include information and factors as to what urban Millennial mothers are facing in regards to employment. Low-wage jobs, lack of benefits, discrimination, and the list goes on.