WA Health Dept tries ‘Infants at Work’ policy

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (KOIN) — An emerging trend of companies allowing parents to bring their newborns to work expanded recently with a new policy at the Washington State Department of Health.

Their “Infants at Work” policy allows moms to bring their babies to work with them from the age of 6 weeks — when many maternity leaves end — through 6 months.

Marissa VanHoozer and her son Gavin are the “pilot team” for the Infants and Work policy. She brought her baby to work from the time he was 8 weeks old and said it was a win-win situation.

Marissa VanHoozer's son, Gavin, at the Washington State Department of Health. Mom and son were part of a pilot "Infants at Work" policy, August 4, 2015. (Marissa VanHoozer)

“He’s just a happy, happy baby and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we got to spend so much time with him,” VanHoozer told KOIN 6 News. “Obviously for him just being around with his mom all day was great instead of having to be with a baby sitter.”

The Washington State Department of Health’s policy includes separate rooms for privacy and breastfeeding.

There are also guidelines:

— The mother must be a full-time employee

— The infant is not allowed at work if the job is too dangerous for a child to be around

— The parent must talk to co-workers about the plan

— There must be a willing “back-up caregiver” at work in case of emergencies.

She said her co-workers didn’t find the baby a distraction.

“The benefits extended to them as well,” she said. “It was really funny to see different personalities come out. The people I thought would have the biggest problems with it ended up being the biggest softies.”

VanHoozer said the new policy was the determining factor for her to even return to work.

“I could still be a mom and still be a professional,” she said. “As a mom, I didn’t come to work and feel like I came to work and left a part of myself at home or with somebody else.”

Other companies in our area, like the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and the animation-studio Laika, have similar policies.

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