Is It Okay to Bring Your Kid to Work When Your Child Care Falls Through?

There's a reason Bring Your Child To Work Day is only once a year

small boy with phone and...

Is it ever okay to bring a child to work with you when your child care arrangements fall through? If you wake up to a sick kid who can't go to school or if your normal child care provider cancels and you don't have a back-up, you might be wondering if you can simply bring your kid to work with you. Or you might have noticed a co-worker doing this on occasion and wondered what the rules are about when this is and isn't okay.

First and foremost, the answer depends on your workplace culture. There are some offices where this absolutely isn't done, and where doing it would be considered wildly unprofessional and inappropriate. But there are also offices where it's considered okay to do in rare emergencies. (There are even a handful of offices where it's okay to do more often than that, but those set-ups are unusual, and you probably already know if you're working in one of them.) But the first step here is to understand the culture where you're working.

Second, make sure your boss is okay with it. Even in a workplace that's friendly to working parents and where kids make an occasional appearance in other departments, your particular manager might frown on it. So make sure your boss doesn't object before you show up with a kid in tow – or, if it's a last-minute emergency, give her a heads-up that explains the situation as soon as you can.

From there, your priorities need to be minimizing the impact on your co-workers and on your own work. And be aware that kid noise that might feel normal to you can be jarring to your co-workers, even to co-workers who have kids themselves, since they're generally expecting a quieter environment at work. That means that you should close your door if you have one; make sure your child has books, toys, or other quiet forms of entertainment; ensure they're supervised at all times; and be prepared to take a crying baby (or an older kid having a meltdown) outside.

And think twice before asking co-workers to babysit if you need to go to a meeting or even just run down the hall. It might seem like a small favor, but it can be a big imposition on someone who has their own work to do or who just doesn't feel comfortable being responsible for someone else's kids. And if you're a manager, be especially cautious about asking your own employees to do this, since they're much less likely to feel comfortable telling you no. (And having someone watching your kid who doesn't really want to do it isn't good for anyone, including your child.)

There are also times when you shouldn't bring your kids to work even with the precautions above in place:
  • When you're new on the job. As with taking time off in your first month, this can make your new manager and co-workers wonder if this is going to be a regular thing. It raises questions that won't be issues when they know you and your work better.
  • When your kids are high-energy (their energy or yours). Ultimately, an office is a place of business. If they're going to significantly distract from that, bringing them in isn't fair to your co-workers or your employer.
  • When your kids are contagious. Bringing sick kids into work with you can seem like the easiest solution, but it's likely to frustrate your co-workers, who won't appreciate the germ exposure (unless you can keep them truly contained). (And of course, depending on the illness, your sick kid might be much more comfortable at home in bed than stuck in a conference room.)
  • When it's the substitute for solving an ongoing child care problem. Most co-workers will understand that even the best plans fall through now and then. But if your child care arrangements are falling through regularly, that's a sign that you need to shore up those arrangements rather than relying on your office to be the back-up plan.

Ultimately, as with most things in the workplace, this question comes down to knowing your office and your manager and being thoughtful about how your actions impact co-workers. People will generally cut you a bit of slack if they can see that you're making an effort on those fronts.

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As most of the posters have said, the workplace is no place for kids. It is a "work"place, not daycare, not home, and not camp. As someone else also said, there should be a plan B, and then a plan C. The office should be neither of those plans. I have seen employees do this and they take advantage on a regular basis now. In one office down the hall, one woman brought her sons in and because they were young (but not that young), she took them to the rest room and they peed all over the toilet and all over the floor. She didn't clean it up; she left it for the rest of the women on the floor to walk in. I guess she is used to having help at home so she doesn't care about anyone else but this is another problem with this kind of thing. Kids do not belong in the workplace; they are not adults.

August 17 2014 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Never bring your child to your job. You are there to work, not to baby-sit. Your co-workers are there to work, not to baby-sit. Even well-behaved children are disruptive. It is their nature.

June 09 2014 at 3:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm all for this if it stops women from calling in and not going to work. Who does their work when they have this problem? The women in the office who DO NOT have kids. If there is an environment that can be made where the mother does not have to worry about her kid, then let her bring them to work. BUT, some sort of benefit should also be given to those who DON'T have kids. A sitter provided at the job site will cost the company money and only benefits those who have kids.

June 08 2014 at 11:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

A person's job is NOT a place for crying babies, and out of control toddlers who want to touch eivery thing they see...Expensive computers and phones are not toys....Some businesses do have their own day care to accommodate the working mother...I dont want some one's toddler to waltz over and start playing with my stuff... It isnt cute.... Im sorry but the work place is no place for a child...

June 08 2014 at 11:46 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

At my job, NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now only WILL THE KID BE SENT HOME BUT I WOULD get FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

June 08 2014 at 10:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It really depends on the child's nature. When I was a little child, I was introverted and very quiet. The only risk with children like that they're bound to be very inquisitive and curious. You can get a child to be quiet--to not do anything for 8 hours, impossible.

June 08 2014 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I say it should be forbidden. Don't inflict yourlittle darlings on your co-workers just because your plans did not work out.

June 08 2014 at 8:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment

Most companies have rules against it because of the risks for injuries. My company is jittery about the risk of slips and falls.

June 08 2014 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It also depends on the type of job. If one's job is doing welfare investigations in absolutely dangerous places, and one is driving a government car which prohibits passengers, taking one's child to work is not only dangerous and stupid, it can cause one to be fired.

June 08 2014 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Elizabeth's comment

It sure can result in one getting fired!

June 08 2014 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not really sure an office, with people on the phone constantly, is a good environment to bring a child into; especially if they're not a well behaved child. It's not MY fault that your babysitter bailed on you and you don't have a back-up plan. Neither is it my job to help 'babysit' your child. Oh, and one more thing, if your child is school age and too sick to go to school (strep throat) DON'T bring them into the office where they can infect every one else!!

June 08 2014 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

your boss is not your babysitter-your kid does not belong at work with you

June 08 2014 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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