Should babies be permitted in workplaces?
Answered by: Peninsula’s HR Advice & Consultancy Director Kate Palmer

MP Stella Creasy has been pulled up for having her 13-week-old baby with her in the House of Commons. She has long advocated for MP’s rights to take maternity leave and argued that by preventing children from attending debates with their parents, the Government is putting up a barrier for MP’s who are also working parents.

Many employers may now be wondering if they should allow this. Firstly, MPs do not fall within the usual employment law rules. They cannot appoint a substitute and take maternity leave. Therefore, when Parliament is sitting, they must choose to either attend with the child, attend without the child, or not represent their constituents.

But how does this translate to other work settings?

“The first question for any employer who is considering allowing employees to bring their children to work must think about the reasons behind this. Why do employees want or need their children there? Are there alternatives and how would children be managed on site? Understanding this motivation behind will be an important factor when it comes to decision making.

“If you do decide to allow employees to bring children to work, this should be done in consultation with all employees, both parents and non-parents. Once something like this has been implemented it can be hard to reverse the decision in the future without damaging employee relations and creating problems with childcare arrangements. Should an employer experiment with allowing children in for a trial period, they must be clear about how it will be managed and what their expectations are so that everyone understands it is not a permanent decision.

“Of course, there are other options available to employees with young children. Making sure that you provide proper maternity, paternity and shared parental leave allowances and giving employees reasonable consideration when it comes to flexibility with start/finish times and taking leave in school holidays is always a good place to start”