A participant in the Forum section of our HR Weekly e-letter (www.theHRSpecialist.com/weekly) complained of the “constant, low-grade distraction” of employees’ children in the office—particularly in summer. He posed this question: “Is it best to ban employees’ kids from the workplace?” Here are some of the comments from other HR professionals:
1. Create a "kid room." “We have a room for children (only). It’s not a break room. It has a TV, some video games, a couch and a chair. There’s no need for the added expense of a day care provider as long as the parent is on site. The parent checks on them during breaks. We’ve had this for 10 years and it seems to work great.” —Ann
2. Banning kids can scare away workers. “Sure you can ban children … if you want to end up with no competent family-rearing employees! Life is not perfect, nor is any job. Maybe closing your door would help you focus!” —Maria
3. Set a policy and two-hour limit. “We have a policy … that allows it with prior approval and the child must be with the parent at all times. The child cannot be here longer than two hours. No sick children allowed. People might think we are being harsh, but we have found that parents don’t want to or can’t supervise their children while at work, and those children end up being a distraction to others or could end up hurt.” —Heather
4. A good distraction. “Our employees bring in their children if it’s only for a few minutes or an hour after school. We usually put them in our boardroom and give them some paper and markers. It usually doesn’t bother us. Sometimes kids here are a good distraction after a long day.” —D
5. Office isn’t a baby sitter. “It depends on the age. Babies, toddlers and kids under 10 are a major distraction for everyone. It’s both unprofessional and inconsiderate to have your kids running around the office. I have four kids (ages 16 to 25) and have worked all their lives. When my kids were young, the office was not a substitute baby sitter. It still isn’t, nor should it be.” —T
6. Consider the liability. “You certainly can have such a policy—and should. One major consideration is the liability of children in a work environment. We allow children to visit in our main lobby, typically when the parent is not working. We do not allow unattended children anywhere in the facility.” —Kathy
7. Lighten up. “My goodness. Lighten up! As long as the employee shows common courtesy by not having the kids there for hours, I can’t imagine why there would be any problem.” —Tara
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