Adam Laroche, a first baseman and designated hitter with the Chicago White Sox, has made headlines over his decision to retire from major league baseball due to the White Sox’s request to reduce the time his 14-year-old son spends with the team.
Laroche’s resignation is an unusual situation that has sparked spirited debate about a number of management and employee issues including, but not limited to: whether the team’s request was justified and reasonable; whether LaRoche took advantage of his arrangement with the team; and whether children belong in a team clubhouse.
The workplace is typically not an appropriate place for children of employees. There may be circumstances, however, when it is unavoidable for an employee to have to bring his or her child to work. If the presence of children at work is an existing or anticipated concern of an employer, the best practice is to establish a policy that clearly explains the ground rules for children in the work place.
Such a policy should explain the circumstances and conditions upon which a child is permitted to be at the work place (including the amount of parental supervision), the conditions when a child is not permitted (illness), restrictions regarding access to any high risk areas, if any, restriction on the child performing work, any limits on the length or frequency of visits, and any notice requirements before bringing a child to work to name a few. It is important that the employer retain sole discretion to deny or revoke previously granted permission.
Alternatively, if a work place is simply not suitable for a child due to safety or other concerns, a policy that clearly prohibits children in the work place may be necessary.
In sum, to avoid any conflict regarding children at work, employers should be proactive in developing a policy that clarifies the employer’s rules. While efficiency and maintaining a professional environment is important, employers should not overlook the importance of establishing rules that also protect the safety of its employees and their children.
Kenneth Winkler, a shareholder at Berman Fink Van Horn, helps employers navigate the employment laws and regulations that govern the workplace.