If you see more people sporting Baby Bjorns as they head into work at the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, there’s a reason. The office is launching a new “Infants in the Workplace” pilot program, where employees may bring their small infants with them to work. The prosecutor’s office is the first county agency to allow babies in the workplace.
“I’m excited for this pilot program and what it means for young families in our office,” Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett said. “I’m hopeful we’ll see clear benefits, not only for the parents and babies but also the office.”
“It will mean lower childcare costs for young families and reduced feeding stress on the infants. For the office, giving employees this option will help people stay in their current positions and lower our turnover costs. It will be a boon to recruitment as well, a new way to attract high-quality applicants,” said Robnett.
The program is open to employees with infants between six weeks and nine months of age who are not yet crawling. Parents will provide their own supplies and equipment and must find two co-workers willing to briefly serve as care providers for the infant, should the need arise.
Deputy prosecutor Annie Yu said that “even knowing we have the option” is important for working parents trying to balance professional and home life. “It means a lot to have an employer that is open to this. Those first months with a new baby are so important. The more time the parents and baby can spend together, the better.”
While the prosecutor’s office is the first Pierce County agency to launch such a program, the idea has already been tested successfully in several state agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office. The state Dept. of Health was the first, starting its pilot program in 2015.
“We’ve seen this work in other agencies, and thankfully we get to build off of their lessons learned,” said Gayle Robbins, Human Resources Manager for the prosecutor’s office. “When we near the end of the pilot program, everyone will have a chance to give their input about what worked and what didn’t. But if our experience is anything like these other workplaces, the benefits will be obvious.”
Said Robnett, “The science is really clear that child-parent bonding is especially important in those early months. As an office, we want to support that. I’m confident we’ll find, as agencies elsewhere have, that there are many upsides for the office as well.”