HR Management & Compliance

Pros and Cons of Allowing Children in the Workplace

Does your organization allow employees’ children be present in the workplace?

There are a lot of reasons parents might request this, such as:

  • Times when regular child care becomes unexpectedly unavailable. Babysitters, coparents, and other caregivers may get sick, or they may cancel unexpectedly for other reasons.
  • Days when childcare availability ends before the workday does. One example of this is school hours, especially in school districts that have one or more days of the week when the schedule varies from the other days.
  • When a child is sick and needs to be picked up from day care or school.
  • When a child is injured and cannot attend regular care or school that day or needs to be picked up.
  • School closures. Schools may shut down for things like weather issues or other problems.

When considering whether to allow this in the workplace, employers should consider the pros and cons. Let’s actually start with the cons first, as they’re often top of mind when considering this situation. Here are a few:

  • Children obviously require care and attention, and, depending on their age and temperament, that may mean parents won’t be very productive while their children are there.
  • Having children around may also disrupt the work of others in the workplace.
  • There may be a safety and liability issue for the employer. This, of course, could be true anywhere, but some workplaces are safer for children than others. This is often the primary factor when a blanket policy of disallowing children is enforced.
  • If the child comes to the workplace because he or she is sick, that obviously raises the risk that the illness will be passed on to other employees.
  • Some colleagues may find the distraction of children frustrating, which can impact morale.
  • It may cause parents to be viewed differently by their colleagues and superiors.

There are also some pros to allowing children in the workplace. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

  • It could mean that minor emergencies translate into fewer absences for parents in the workplace, which could be less disruptive overall.
  • It may mean that more parents can keep working after expanding their family because they have more flexibility. This could result in less turnover overall and a lower likelihood that you’ll lose new parents—especially women, who are more likely to drop out of the workforce after expanding their family—as they move up the ranks.
  • It can reduce the stress for employees who are already dealing with a stressful situation.
  • It saves employees money on child care, especially emergency, last-minute child care, which can be seen as an employee benefit.
  • Some employees enjoy having children around; the fun and distraction can occasionally be positive.
  • The alternative is often that the employee needs to be absent, which is not necessarily a better alternative, even when taking the cons into account.

Employers should consider having a specific policy in place for this topic, regardless of which side of the coin they’re on. If kids are allowed in the workplace, the situation should be handled well, such as by having an area where they can play or watch TV. If kids are allowed, it should be clear when this is the case; is it anytime, only in emergency situations, only during after-school hours, or only up to a specific age?

If this is something your organization wants to avoid, consider offering benefits like emergency child care to give parents options when they’re faced with these types of situations. Or, provide greater flexibility by allowing remote work if possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *