The six-week school holidays have come around once again, and as an employer, you brace yourself for the onslaught of early morning call-ins from stressed out parents whose babysitters have gone on holiday or local nurseries are fully booked.
It is bound to happen and sometimes there is nothing that you can do except support your employees as much as possible and work around the shortage of staff during this time.
One option, as stated by law, is to offer them time off for dependants which is unpaid to assist with emergency situations, or it may be possible for your employee to work from home for a day or two a week until the kids return to school in September.
This means that productivity shouldn’t drop too much and that staff with children will feel more supported and less pressure to prioritise work over their children.
But, one question that you may find yourself being faced with is: “Can I bring my child into work for the day?”
It isn’t a decision that should be made lightly.
Although it may seem innocent enough to allow an employee to bring their child into the workplace (a child-friendly one such as an office) there are things that you need to consider.
The first thing you should bear in mind is that by letting one parent bring their child to work, you could open a floodgate of similar requests. It wouldn’t be fair to say yes to one employee and no to the rest so you should clearly communicate any policy that you decide upon for this kind of situation.
Maybe your employee must fall under very specific circumstances to bring their child to work; they can’t find childcare, are a single parent, and cannot work from home. This must be written down and included in staff handbooks if you do feel the need to create a policy regarding bringing children into the workplace.
It should also express the terms and expectations if an employee does have a child on the premises such as how long they can be there for, where they should be for the duration of their stay and who is responsible for their well-being and whereabouts.
You also need to remember that you will be liable for the child’s safety, so if they were to get injured on the premises this could put you in a difficult position.
Your employers’ liability insurance provider isn’t going to be happy to know that you agreed to have a child on the premises and they were injured whilst there.
You may be able to work around this by including it in your health and safety policy so that employees are aware of their responsibility should their child be on the premises.
This may mean limiting the time that children are allowed on the premises, the areas of the building they can venture into and ensuring that there is an adult present at all times.
Though we would generally advise against allowing employees to bring their children to work, you may find that it is unavoidable and affecting employee attendance.
Hence, you may agree to let them bring their child but the above advice should be taken on board.