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Allowing infants to come to work


County Council calls for pilot program to allow eligible employees to bring new babies to county offices


King County employees may soon have the opportunity to bring their babies to work, after today’s action by the Metropolitan King County Council requesting that the Executive implement a pilot “Infants at Work” program.

“We know there are long-term health benefits for both parents and kids when they have more time to bond in the first 6 months,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, who sponsored the motion. “An Infants at Work program is the right thing to do for our employees, since it also gives families more financial stability and flexibility at a time when childcare costs continue to rise. I’m excited we’re taking another positive step towards making King County a family-friendly workplace.”

“Infants at Work programs, like the pilot we are implementing today, are not only important because they allow new parents to spend more time with their newborn children but because they are proven to improve employee retention and satisfaction without sacrificing productivity,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor of the ordinance. “Keep in mind that this is just a pilot so I introduced an amendment that required an evaluative assessment of the program so we can be sure it is working and can constructively address any issues that may arise.”

Infants at Work (IAW) programs are structured to allow eligible employees the opportunity to bring their new infants to work for a limited period of time. A growing number of employers have implemented this program, and in 2015, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) adopted an IAW policy to allow employees to bring their infant, ages 6 weeks to 6 months, to work.

“The King County Women's Advisory Board is proud to support the King County Council's motion piloting an Infants at Work program for King County employees, which is part of our forthcoming 2018 recommendations to the Council to improve access to affordable and flexible child care in King County,” said Sarah Reyneveld, Chair of the King County Women's Advisory Board. “This program is one that will benefit women, infants, and working families in King County as it will further diminish the wage gap and gender inequity in the workplace by allowing more women the opportunity to bond with their infants while maintaining continuity at work, improve infant health and development, and reduce the cost burden of child care on working families.”

The motion adopted by the Council requests the Executive to develop a plan to implement a pilot program allowing eligible employees to bring their new infants to work. The plan should include:

• Eligibility requirements;

• A description of any workplace environment considerations, such as safety guidelines, facility requirements, and recommended operational practices to ensure the adequate care of the infant, adequate workplace hygiene and continued employee productivity;

• Policies and procedures for events when an infant is disruptive to the work environment for a prolonged period of time; and

• A timeline for implementing the pilot program, including the duration and beginning and end dates, and the scope of employee groups to participate.”

The motion requests that the plan, along with any legislation necessary for implementation, be transmitted to King County Council by August 15, 2018.
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