Zoe Williams Investigates: Bring Your Baby to Work

The United States and Australia are the only two countries in the industrialised world that don’t have paid statutory maternity leave (there are exceptions in some US states). At least in Australia, though, your job is protected for a year; in America, even the leave protection only lasts for 12 weeks. It’s an astonishingly backward state of affairs, like discovering that France doesn’t have a postal service.

There’s apparently a new trend in America for companies–eager to ease the strain caused by a lack of paid maternity or paternity leave, limited maternity leave job protection, non-existent on-site childcare, and family-unfriendly working hours and absence policies–to allow employees to bring their babies to work. One can’t help but suspect that some crafty (childless) American businessperson heard about similar schemes, where many companies are allowing employees to bring their pets to work, and thought ‘hey great idea! This’ll solve our parental leave problems! It’s not like looking after a baby involves DOING ANYTHING. So why not let parents bring the babies here and get back to work?!’ A web site dedicated to the trend lists the following benefits of such a scheme:

williams and baby thurston hard at work
williams and baby thurston hard at work
Lower Stress for Parents
Happier Marriages
Easier Breastfeeding
Easier Bonding
Lower Day Care Costs
Better Financial Stability
Socialized and Happier Babies
Parents Learn from Coworkers
Social Network for Parents
Less Postpartum Depression
Enables Starting a Family Earlier
Fathers More Involved with Babies
Right. Because nothing helps you bond with your baby like ignoring her while you work. Or maybe: nothing lowers parental stress like pissing off the coworkers. The always-genius Zoe Williams decided to test out the idea, and–along with two of her fellow Guardian columnists who also have babies–brought her six-month-old in for a day in the office. The results are hilarious in their perfect predictability. A totally genius way to shame women out of the workplace, if you ask me.

5 thoughts on “Zoe Williams Investigates: Bring Your Baby to Work

  1. Thanks for the link: an excellent read. And yes, you must be right that the underlying assumption behind these programs is that caring for a baby requires no effort whatsoever.

  2. Which might tell one something about those planning it. E.g., haven’t any experience….???

  3. it must be. i think williams mentions in this article that a lot of the businesses who are implementing these schemes require parents to clock off when they’re looking after the baby. in order for this to make any sense whatsoever, it would have to be the case that, when looking after a baby (normally; not at work) you’re mostly not doing anything. because otherwise, you’d just be in the office off the clock all day. …and of course, that’s probably how it actually *is* in practice. this sort of scheme is like denying sick leave, but encouraging workers instead to come to work sick, and then calling your policy “progressive” and “inclusive”. it’s ridiculous.

  4. jj: yes quite. successful late-20-somethings who’ve seen children on tv, i’d guess!

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