Will California State Workers Be Allowed To Bring Infants To Work?

By Alice Salles
Alice Salles
Alice Salles
September 14, 2019 Updated: September 14, 2019

California legislature unanimously passed a bill that would allow state employees to bring their infants to work, and it’s now up to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the bill into law.

Newsom has shown support for similar efforts that promote the healthy development of children. However, the piece of legislation isn’t without controversy, as the legislative body has raised some concerns about its implementation.

The bill known as Assembly Bill 372 has the goal of promoting breastfeeding and parent and infant bonding time. However, not all employees will be eligible, as agencies can choose not to implement the policy if the environment in question is “inappropriate for infants, for safety, health, or other concerns regarding the infant, the adult, or both.”

The bill, which would allow parents to bring their babies to work beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, requires that parents acquire medical clearance from a physician and a surgeon beforehand. Assemblyman Randy Voepel, a Republican from Santee, is the lawmaker who drafted the bill. And while he and Newsom might belong to different parties, he told a local CBS affiliate that he believes the governor will sign AB 372 into law.

But despite Voepel’s push for the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee raised some concerns regarding its cost.

“[AB 372] would result in annual costs across the General Fund and several special funds,” the committee wrote in its review. “The magnitude of these costs is unknown, but potentially significant.”

These costs would include investment in new and improved infrastructure, with the California Department of Human Resources implementing and developing the program, drafting new regulations, and offering guidance to state departments implementing the changes.

Furthermore, the committee brought up the potential risk for liability regarding workplace accidents involving infants and the fact that workers may forego taking their full vacation time.

Despite these concerns, Carla Moquin, the founder of Parenting in the Workplace Institute, told The Epoch Times that the benefits outweigh the risks.

“Infant-at-work programs offer significant benefits to organizations and employees, in large part because they cost very little to set up,” she explained.

“Typically, the only expenses are running a proposed policy by an attorney and having diaper changing tables installed in restrooms.”

In addition, she conceded, office managers would have to set up meetings “between parents and a human resources contact prior to a new baby coming to work,” but the time required for this would be minimal.

“State agencies in several states, including Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and Kansas have seen great success with these programs,” she told The Epoch Times. Additionally, the close contact with their children makes working parents more efficient.

“Formal baby programs result in increased retention, higher morale, easier recruitment, and higher employee loyalty. Participating parents also volunteer to return to work earlier after their baby’s birth because they don’t have to choose between staying with their child and receiving a paycheck.”

In states where these programs were implemented, Moquin argued, agencies truly appreciated the results. Particularly because the program helped to keep parents as employees while keeping their expenses low, as they do not have to put their children in daycare.

In Washington, where nearly 20 state agencies and commissions take advantage of the Infant to Work program, employees echo Moquin’s comments.

WA Department of Social and Health Services employee Erika Hurley told a local news agency in August that bringing her then-4-month-old son to work made her more productive.

“I came back to work a month earlier than I would have so I could get back to my job, do what I love, and still be a mom,” Hurley told reporters.

In Arizona, the sentiment is similar, making the program very popular. As a result, Gov. Doug Ducey vowed to expand it, according to KTAR News.

To the Republican governor, state employees shouldn’t have to choose between having a career and being a loving parent.

“[Parents] want to take care of their kids, but they love their career as well,” he told the news outlet. “We don’t want it where they have to make, necessarily, the choice for one or the other.”

Darren Duranco, the Arizona Department of Child Safety spokesman, added that when employees bring their babies to work, everyone benefits because the presence of an infant always uplifts the office’s “mood and morale,” he told KTAR News.

In California, Moquin told The Epoch Times, state officials should have no problem carrying out a “smooth implementation process” of the Infant to Work program considering so many other states have paved the way.

Alice Salles
Alice Salles