Parenting Plans Absent

In C.D. Howe's Absenteeism Report

The C.D. Howe Institute's Finn Poschmann and Omar Chatur have just released their comprehensive report “Absent With Leave: The Implications of Demographic Change for Worker Absenteeism”. The report is comprehensive in many respects – outlining the impacts of demographics and a changing work place. Unfortunately, the report is silent on one of the main driving forces of absenteeism within some demographic groups: separation, divorce and custody battles.

Divorce, mediation, litigation and the related lawyer appointments and stress induced illnesses represent a large portion of absenteeism for single or separated parents. The current system of determining parenting plans within mediation or litigation demands both parents attendance away from work. In some provinces, there are also now mandatory education programs for family law litigants, further exacerbating absenteeism.

The Fair Parenting Project advocates for a new, community based model for the mass of parenting plans. Instead of every set of parents engaging in a protracted and costly negotiation to invent their own parenting plan which does not integrate with community activities and services for their children, the community should have a common parenting plan. The Fair Parenting Project conducted a 2 ½ year pilot project that successful developed a common parenting schedule and resulted in efficiency not just for parents; because of a common parenting plan, children were able to get bus service to both of their homes. Day cares, sports teams and other community organizations enjoy less friction and wasted time dealing with separated parent’s scheduling conflicts. Further, employees do not have to suffer through increased absenteeism while their parent employees go through the futile process of developing a poor parenting plan.

Long Term

The report highlights how women's absenteeism is much greater than men's and that this has increased over the last few decades. Part of the reason for this impact is that women are often encouraged or forced to accept parenting plans that are not in their logistical favor. For example, they are willing to have transfers of the children from one of the child's homes to the other in the evening or on a weekend to protect their ex-partner's job, and the common source of child or spousal support. The long term result of this is a disproportionate childcare burden on the woman and damage to her career. Ironically, the convenience for the support payer ends up exacerbating the term and quantum of support because the woman's career is crippled. Chatur and Poschmann suggest accommodations should be considered - perhaps. First, our communities, parents and children deserve effective parenting plans so that many of the issues cited above, including absenteeism, can be reduced or shared between both parents.

Further information about the Fair Parenting Project and its benefits are available at