Kids In The Workplace

tyler the boss...slacking off like dad

[twitter]Having kids really does put pressure on your career. Finding a work-life-family balance is one that every parent struggles with, some more than others.

For many it’s a cost/benefit equation that must be performed to see if both parents can continue to work once the cost of daycare is subtracted from one spouse’s income. Is that take home pay enough to put the day-to-day care of your children in someone else’s hands? It’s a calculation we all do.

In the end, many of us do find it worthwhile to return to work. But what do you do when your kids get sick, your teachers go on strike, dentist appointments etc? Parents can end up burning their own sick days, holiday time, and employer good-will quickly.

So is there a time when bringing your kids to work is a solution? 2 high profile cases recently have seen elected officials bring infants into government meetings.

Sana Hassainia, a Quebec NDP MP, brought her infant son into the House of Commons to take part in a parliamentary vote. When MPs scrambled over each other to take photos of the child, Hassainia was asked to remove her child from the chamber.

“The rules are that no strangers are allowed in,” Hassainia told CBC News. “So certainly, yes, my baby is a stranger. But, it’s not like he was a threat to national security.”

The Speaker ultimately ruled the infant wasn’t a distraction, but rather the Members of Parliament fussing to take pictures of the child was the problem.

Hassaina, who was pregnant when she was campaigning for office, has said she won’t do it again.

This week another elected official is causing a disruption by bringing an infant to work. Kara Westerlund is a city councillor in Brazeau County, Alberta. She took a week off when her daughter was born in January, but has since been bringing her to day long council meetings.

Westerlund has drawn the ire of fellow councillor, Pat Monteith, who wrote to the local Breton booster newspaper with her displeasure.

“It appears that our new council chambers and meeting room has been turned into a nursery,” wrote Monteith. “I am finding it disruptive and distracting. More importantly, how do you feel about your tax dollars going to pay someone to care for her own child?”

There are challenges every parent has to face when looking after our kids. We all have to make sacrifices when balancing work and family, for some that sacrifice might have to be not taking on very committed careers when having a young family.

Some argue letting kids in the workplace is a way to help the economy get back on it’s feet. The Parenting In The Workplace Institute works with companies to create family friendly environments where infants are in the office.

If babies get rowdy or need to nurse, parents must take them to a secluded quiet room. Sick infants must stay home. Babies must be supervised at all times, even if it means enlisting a coworker’s help while the parent takes a break. And children only can participate in the program until they turn 9 months old or begin to crawl.

Zutano, a children’s clothing manufacturer, allows children in the workplace for the first year. Considering the company, and the fact it was started by a husband and wife with kids under feet, it makes sense for their culture.

These sorts of policies might make sense in the US, where maternity benefits last weeks, not months, and parents are expected back to work much sooner than in Canada. Here, families can take up to 12 months off work (maternity or paternity leave). Granted E-I benefits while on mat leave are not the same as pulling a full salary, but it is still a great perk.

What’s your take? Should elected officials be allowed to bring infants into public meetings? Would you like to take a pack and play and put it in your office?

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  1. Glenda March 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I’m fortunate enough to have a family friendly workplace. We have an excellent day care and our son, aged 3, enjoys being with 8-9 other children. During flu season, the kids rotate catching the flu plus other childhood illnesses. When my son is sick, I’m able to work from home. Our day care is also closed for 6 weeks out of the year: 2 weeks during Spring Break (for Spring cleaning and professional development), 2 weeks at the end of August & December for vacation. The monthly fee is reasonable and accomodates these closures. My boss, who has raised 3 kids of his own, is flexible with which days I work from home, when i take vacation and which days I bring my son to the office. To ensure my son and co-workers all get along, I discuss with my son what “work” he has to do while he is at mommy’s office including what is acceptable behavior. I pack plenty of “work” for him to do, snacks and a special treat for a job well done. We even plan a lunch date. I greatly appreciate the flexibility and in return, I work a few after hours during the week via smartphone/tablet and happily put in the extra hours when under deadline. It seems balanced and my son and I have some great conversations on the commute home.

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