Taking Children to Work

Many parents will opt to bring their children to their jobs for the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” on April 28th. While this annual event is popular around the country, it does present the topic of just when is it appropriate to bring your children to work and when isn’t it?

While many in the workforce want to be more present and involved in the lives of their children, the majority of work environments really want to keep family life and work life in two separate spheres according to Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute (FWI) located in New York City.

It’s a question of what’s appropriate. 

The firestorm that erupted after Adam LaRoche announced that he was leaving the professional baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, over being asked to limit the amount of time his son was in the clubhouse, had many people asking questions and beginning the dialogue about the appropriateness of having children in the workplace.

In the case of Adam LaRoche’s son, Drake, the teenager was at the training facility and at U.S. Cellular Field on a daily basis. Drake is reportedly home-schooled. Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams told reporters that the line needed to be drawn somewhere as many players may also have similar requests about bringing their own children to work in a similar fashion.

“I don’t think [Drake] should be here 100 percent of the time. And he has been here 100 percent, every day, in the clubhouse,” Williams told reporters. He added, “You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?”

LaRoche chose to instead retire from as a pro baseball player thus walking away from the $13 million he would have earned for the season. LaRoche posted a letter on social media site, Twitter that said; “As fathers, we have an opportunity to help mold our kids into men and women of character, with morals and values that can’t be shaken by the world around them. Of one thing I am certain: we will regret NOT spending enough time with our kids, not the other way around.”

Not many employers or coworkers really want to allow a child to be at work with their parents on a constant basis. According to David Haugh wrote in an opinion piece that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, no matter how well-mannered a child is, “children change the dynamic of professional interaction. All exchanges risk becoming more awkward or unnatural. Nobody dares say so out of fear of being the jerk who complains about the colleague’s kid …”

Policies regarding kids in the workplace.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM),“The presence of children in the workplace with the employee parent during the employee’s workday is inappropriate and is to be avoided except in emergency situations. This policy is established to avoid disruptions in job duties of the employee and co-workers, reduce property liability, and help maintain the company’s professional work environment.”

While some employers allow children at work only in emergencies, Galinsky said others are far more lenient about having kids in the workplace.

She noted that summer is a tricky time for working parents of school-age children, as kids are out of school, summer camps can be expensive, and many day care facilities tend to care only for children younger than 5 or 6.

“I remember interviewing a secretary at Johnson & Johnson who brought her school-age son to work with her over summer vacations,” she said. “She was a single parent and wanted her son with her. The boss encouraged it, but it wasn’t a policy. [The son] is grown now and works at J&J himself.”

According to the forthcoming FWI-SHRM 2016 National Study of Employers, 3 percent of employers provides child care for school-age children on vacation. While that is a relatively low number, many companies could allow for older teenage children to be with their parents at work successfully. However, it will be up to individual companies and their workers to decide what’s appropriate that is both good for parents and children and overall workplace.

Company policy regarding children in the workplace varies from company to company. Certainly, the discussion about bringing kids to work and finding a balance between what employees want and what a company’s needs are can be a challenge. At NetPEO, we understand that company policies regarding kids at work are there for the overall good of the company and its culture.

Companies often choose NetPEO for their human resource needs so that they can focus on the things that they do best. We offer a wide range of services which include payroll, employee benefits, liability management for employers, brokerage services, and employee leasing. Contact us today to discuss your company’s current needs and to schedule a free assessment. Let NetPEO help you with all of your employee and payroll needs.