Balancing the demands of work and having a new baby is seriously exhausting and stressful–especially since your body is still healing from childbirth and adjusting to a new schedule. This is why I love the fact that one company in California is trying to make the transition from new parenthood to back-to-work easier for its employees.
Schools Financial Credit Union offers employees, regardless of gender–meaning both moms and dads–the option of bringing their babies to work until the babies turn 6 months old with full pay. One of the employees making use of the baby-at-work program, Alyssa Palomino, has only positive things to say so far:
“I was a little stressed out, but my husband was so sad to go to work today and not have the girls that it made it a little easier for me. At least I can have them with me – it takes the pressure off mom returning to work.”
The program has actually been in effect since 2001 (and was recently featured in USA Today), but these types of progressive policies are only just catching on elsewhere. For instance, USA Today reported that Amazon plans to pilot a program comprised solely of employees working 30-hour weeks in order to retain employees.
It’s really kind of terrible that the U.S. is one of only three countries that do not guarantee paid maternity leave. While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows qualified employees to take 12 week of unpaid leave, there is no federal policy requiring employers to provide paid time-off. Not everyone can takes 12 unpaid weeks off. And the caveat? You don’t qualify if you have worked at your company for less than a year, or your company has less than 50 employees.
It turns out that 25% of women return to work 10 days after having a baby–which illustrates that we live in a culture of fear–fear of losing our jobs if we have kids. Schools Financial Credit Union VP of Human Resources Lisa Mackay told USA Today why her company has their “bring your baby to work” policy for over 10 years:
“Even though you get to have time off under the law and all that, some people can’t afford to take off as much time as others. So they end up being forced to come back to work sooner than they would want, and [have] to put their child in day care. This gives them the option to come back to work, but still be able to stay with their baby.
We know going in the employee is not going to be 100% productive. That is just part of the program, and it’s part of the intention of the program. It’s not a problem.”
Of course, there is no perfect policy for everyone and every family, but having company policies that help support their employees is the right start. Having kids shouldn’t be a liability to your job–or cause even more stress because you have to jump through hoops just to keep your job.