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I've been telecommuting successfully for several years, and just had my first child. My employer insists I put my baby in day care or hire a nanny. I don't feel my employer has the right to tell me how to care for my baby. What should I do?

Many employers have as part of their telecommuting policies or agreements statements to the effect that the telecommuter's first responsibility is to get the job done.

It is a very delicate issue to go as far as to specifically direct an employee to put a child in day care or get a nanny. The intent of that directive is sound, i.e., the goal is to get the work done. But, it's sort of heavy-handed. The focus should be on the job performance, not on the child care.

What I prefer companies to do is to make it clear that the employee will be held accountable for results just as before the child arrived. If the parent/telecommuter can do both jobs at once (work and parent), that's fine - but it's also very unlikely, especially if the parent is trying to work anything near full-time.

The real dilemma here is that what appears to be a perfect solution is very imperfect. I have known of many telecommuters who thought they could do both, and ended up staying up until very late at night to get the work done as required - only to be awakened at 5 am by the baby. Instead of telecommuting in this instance being a "win-win" solution in which everyone comes out ahead, it can become a "lose-lose" in which nobody feels good about it.

I'm all in favor of flexible work arrangements, parents being able to be with their kids, and progressive management - but not to the point where it creates more problems than it solves.

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