Help me write family friendly policy into staff handbook - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 07-31-2005, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi there -

I'm hoping for some help on what is important to include in "company" policy. I've been taking DD to work with me since she was 3 months but there hasn't been anything documented in overarching policy (like flexibility in one's schedule to breastfeed, a compressed work week, etc).

I work for a food cooperative, not a corporate company, so your suggestions don't need to be in "legalese". I thought I'd get some good ideas from the Jan/Feb 05 Mothering and there were some, but not enough to make me feel like I'm really covering the topic. I want to cover: pregnancy, family leave, bringing one's child to work, and the issues surrounding having young children and taking them to school, illness, etc.

Previous Mothering articles referenced in the Jan/Feb article go way back (numbers 31, 48, 52, 56) which I don't have access to, and the timeframe on this project is short, so I don't know that there is time to get reprints on the articles.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you have on what to include!!!
Thanks very much -

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#2 of 6 Old 07-31-2005, 08:55 AM
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I'll be watching this thread.

My hubby started a company a few months ago and we have talked about different policy ideas. Ie. partners attending all prenatal appointments.

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#3 of 6 Old 07-31-2005, 12:54 PM
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I'm not a fan of policies and I avoid them as much as legally possible - there are areas where they have to be, ie. drug and alcohol. The reason for this bias is that everytime a company sets a policy, they are required to follow it to the letter. Its the old "for every rule there is an exception". Once you start making exceptions to policies you may as well toss them out the window.

Employee Handbooks are legal documents in that when you have an issue the first question legal counsel will ask is "did he/she have a copy of the policy in the handbook and does the company have proof that he/she recieved it (a signed acknowledgement of reciept and understanding)."

So, with that in mind, what I'd do is a simple statement on the company's support of work/life balance - being family friendly - honoring the contribution that each individual brings to the overall mission - that sort of thing. Then, where policy is necessary, be family friendly.

**** I want to cover: pregnancy, family leave, bringing one's child to work, and the issues surrounding having young children and taking them to school, illness, etc. ******

Your FMLA policy (if you are covered a policy is required) should cover pregnancy and family leave. If you are not required to extend FMLA to your employees, your time-off policies (also something that should be policy) could still mirror it. Your sick time policies could provide that ee's can use their sick pay to care for themselves or the illness/dr visits of an immediate relative - again mirroring the FMLA.

I personally wouldn't set policy wrt bringing children to work for the simple reason that you could never address all the potential issues and you need to allow room to treat each situation individually. We welcome children in our office but in the past few years we've had to ask 2 employees to stop bringing their kids for vastly idfferent reasons. If we would have had a policy in place we would have had to go against it, nullifying it for all, and risk putting ourselves in a precarious legal situation.

I'd also not make any policy with regard to flex scheduling for taking kids to school and such. Again, you can never predict what situations may come up. i'd simply make it a practice to work with employees on these issues. In some regard you must do for one what you do for another, but by not setting anything in writing you give yourself some flexibility to address individual situations.

Hope that helps.

We work closely with a local employer organization which provides legal guidance on issues like this. I highly recommend, if such a thing exists, that you contact them! If you aren't sure what to look for, feel free to PM me - I can contact ours and they can direct me to an org in your area.

and another note - I am NOT a lawyer so my adivce is only that of someone who works in the field and is constantly learning. Each company is different and any handbook/ poicy/statement should *always* have legal review prior to being presented to employees.
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#4 of 6 Old 07-31-2005, 02:05 PM
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I can't help but think in terms of mission statement, so this might be too vague for your purposes... but how about something along the lines of "We value our employees as whole people with responsibilities outside of the work force that sometimes call them away from regular working hours. We honor the needs of individuals and their families as much as we are able, and trust in our employees not to abuse this relationship."

I would allow room to let people define family for themselves--does the employee who lives with her ill grandmother deserve less leeway as a caretaker than a parent? You can't anticipate every situation or choose people's priorities for them. It would be a good idea, however, to include explicit, common examples such as prenatal appointments, sick children, etc.

Good luck! I believe that employees who are treated with respect and flexibility model good business practices for the whole community--and are a terrific long term investment for the company.
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#5 of 6 Old 07-31-2005, 06:54 PM
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If you're looking for ideas on specific benefits for employees, the 100 best companies to work for list put out by Working Mother magazine is a good starting point:

For each company, they describe the benefits that make it a great company to work for.

Expecting #2 in May 2013!


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#6 of 6 Old 08-01-2005, 04:14 AM
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I think something to keep in mind is that there are risks to framing this as a "work/family" balance. IMO, employers should strive for "work/life" balance. While being a parent comes with unique responsibilities, I do think unfair burdens can sometimes be placed on workers without children. It's not just parents who need and deserve to have a workplace that is responsive to their needs outside of the office.
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