For most companies in the business world, Take Your Child To Work Day comes but once a year. But at Freedom Law P.C., a small woman-owned law firm in Eastpointe, Michigan, employees can take their new babies to work until they’re six months old, reports Corp Magazine. The Infant-at-Work program — which is available to new moms and dads — allows employees to bring their babies to work up through the age of 6 months or when they begin to crawl (whichever comes first). Certain caveats apply; participating employees must make their workstation suitable for the baby, maintain acceptable work performance and minimize the baby’s disruption and designate a coworker to provide backup care. Charissa Potts, one of the firm’s founders and principal attorneys says that the program support employees as they become parents and encourages them to return to work sooner.
Some may argue that the telecommuting options has displaced the need for Infant-at-Work Programs – but I would disagree. For starters, even those firms and companies that allow telecommuting often require attorneys and staff on site two or three days a week. The Infant-at-Work Program thus spares employees the cost of childcare -even part-time – for a couple of months. Moreover, telecommuting is a limited and somewhat elitist response to equality in the workplace. While professionals like attorneys can work from home easily, other law firm jobs – like receptionists, IT and administrative support – require performance on site. Infant-on-Work programs thus support staff who have fewer flex options, not to mention less money for childcare than attorneys.
There’s another shortcoming to telecommuting: the out of sight, out of mind syndrome. When employees work from home, they’re often left out of the impromptu brainstorming or spur of the moment client conversations that they might have been included in if they’d been present at the office. Programs that make it easier for new parents to return to the workplace keeps them in the loop.
But what I like best about Infant-at-Work programs is that they evince a visible commitment to working parents that’s much more powerful than a telecommuting program alone. Because when you walk into a law firm with toys strewn in a workstation and moms and dads cradling a baby while talking to a client on the phone or tapping out a brief, you know that this is a firm that goes to the mat for its employees and will do the same for its clients.