What post-parental leave flexibility looks like
- A new baby is not the only gift for new parents. Some companies are allowing parents who are returning to work after maternity or paternity leave to bring their newborns with them, SHRM reports. Employers recognize the difficulty new parents have returning to work after leave, leaving newborns at home, re-engaging with coworkers and being productive again. To help, companies are offering benefits that make the return to work more family-oriented for new parents and their children.
- W.S. Badger, a New Hampshire-based firm, has a Baby at Work program that lets parents bring their children to work until they’re six months old or crawling, for example. On top of six to eight weeks of short-term disability, Badger also offers five additional weeks of vacation to primary caregivers and two weeks to secondary caregivers.
- Companies also provide “safety net” benefits to families. Badger allows school-age children to come to work on snow days and employees to bring dogs to work. Menlo Innovations, a software company in Ann Arbor, has provided emergency backup for parents when daycare facilities are full or closed.
All programs need requirements and procedures to run effectively. Parents who want to join the Babies at Work program contact their supervisor, and the two draft a memo outlining the expectations for the employee and the company. Generally, such communication is a good model to follow.
Employers might be concerned about the effect of babies in the office and possible disruptions in productivity, but new parents likely make up such a small segment of the workplace that problems should be minimal. Badger has designated “baby holders,” coworkers who care for the children so parents can get work done. This arrangement might not be suitable for all workplaces, but finding ways to improve workplace flexibility is key to ensuring new parents stick around.