We're not a daycare


What to do when employees bring kids to work.

Some of my co-workers occasionally bring their kids to work. As a practice manager, I feel team members are responsible for arranging their childcare needs outside of work. I don't want the practice to be liable if a child slips, and I don't want other employees who made arrangements for their kids to be forced to babysit. What can I do when a team member arrives with a child saying the babysitter's sick? —NOT A NANNY



As a practice manager, part of your job is to speak for the business. And that business is successful when it provides quality patient care, superior client service, and a positive work environment. Hospitals house hazardous materials, dangerous instruments, and other conditions not safe for a child. Sure, none of your team members intend for their kids to get injured when they bring them to work. I suspect taking them to work was their last resort. But the fact is, risks run high in hospitals.

Plus, patient care and client service will suffer when team members are worrying about whether the little ones will stick their fingers in the big bad dog's kennel. And, if other team members have arranged childcare for their children, resentment may ruin a positive work environment if they have to step over their co-workers' kids all day.

So the clinic is not a childcare option. That means you need to make a policy: Employees are in charge of finding daycare outside of work. Oh, and this means you, too. You'll need to lead by example. If it's unsafe for their kids, it's unsafe for yours. Something to consider: create an on-call position that gives someone a bonus if they can cover a shift when there's an illness or childcare issue. More clinics are also going to a 50-50 split on team members; half work full time and half part time. This provides some additional flexibility and can improve coverage problems. —AMY

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