SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There’s a new push at the State Capitol to allow state workers to bring their infants to work with them.
Assembly Bill 372 was introduced Tuesday. A similar bill didn’t advance through the legislature last session.
If passed, state employees would be allowed to bring their infants to work in order to promote parent-infant bonding time and breastfeeding. Babies would need to be between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 months, or until the infant is crawling (whichever is earlier), and get medical clearance from a physician and a surgeon.
Assemblyman Randy Voepel (R-Santee), the lawmaker behind the proposal, thinks he may have Governor Newsom’s vote. Newsom has shown an interest in parent-friendly initiatives.
The governor’s office issued a statement Wednesday:
“The Governor believes strongly in supporting family bonding and child development from the cradle all the way to career. This is why two of his earliest policy proposals were around funding early childhood education and expanding paid family leave.
The Governor is also keenly aware that details matter and bills change at every stage of the legislative process.
He’s committed to working with the legislature and making his priorities known, and he carefully reviews all pending legislation (and, of course, every bill that reaches his desk) to ensure they meet the standard of the people of California.”
Currently, the California Family Rights Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected time to care for a child born to, adopted by, or placed for foster care with an employee. Other laws allow new moms to get time and a private space to pump breast milk.
The newly introduced Infant at Work program “encourages state employees to return to work sooner than they otherwise might, and is community and family friendly.”
Some parents say it will take a lot for the plan to work.
Heather Garrison was sure she would go back to work after having her daughter Fiona. That changed the minute she laid her eyes on her.
“I never thought I was gonna be like a stay at home mom, and now that I have her… I’ve gotten really into attachment parenting,” Garrison said.
The ability to have that special bond and keep working is the motivation behind the new “take your baby to work” bill. It would allow parents to bring their infants into the office for the first six months of life.
It’s not a lifestyle for everyone.
Mom Natalie Jones thinks it would be distracting and Abby Marks said there are so many things, including breastfeeding and crying, to deal handle with newborns.
The bill would ban state agencies from participating in the Infant at Work program if the work environment is considered “inappropriate for infants, for safety, health, or other concerns regarding the infant, the adult, or both.” The child’s parent or caregiver would have the sole responsibility for keeping the child safe at work.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services developed a similar program in 2009. More than 250 babies in 10 agencies have participated. Washington state also has an Infant at Work program and as of June 7, 2018 more than 70 infants have gone to work with their parents.
During last year’s legislative session, concerns were raised about the cost of equipping state buildings to accommodate infants, including baby proofing, the “aftermath of workplace accidents involving infants, and fiscal stress to state department budgets resulting from additional employee unused leave credits, which would ultimately be cashed out.”
Babies at work policies are not new. The Parenting in the Workplace Institute says hundreds of companies in the U.S. now allow parents to care for infants on the job.
For now, the bill needs to make it to its first committee before moving forward.