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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Call for immediately banning children from workplace falters

MOUND CITY – A proposal by a Linn County commissioner to ban county employees from bringing their children to work didn’t get the kind of support he was likely hoping for.

“Due to concerns about liability,” Commissioner Jim Johnson said, “I move we prohibit all employees from bringing their children to stay at work with them effective immediately. And that we add that prohibition to the employee handbook in the next revision.”

Commissioner Jason Hightower questioned what Johnson meant by the next revision, and he also asked County Clerk David Lamb whether it was already in the handbook.

Lamb said he did not think that was addressed in the handbook now, but he would have to look to verify that.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said that the employee handbook was usually revised late in the year with revisions becoming effective on Jan. 1.

Thompson pointed out that Johnson’s motion had two parts.

Johnson said, ”To stop it immediately and to put it in the handbook next revision.”

Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked if there was a second to the motion.

Hightower said “I am in favor of us making that revision in our handbook and everything, but what are you trying to accomplish by doing it immediately, Jim?”

“My concern is about liability, like I said in the statement,” said Johnson.

McCullough again asked for a second, but neither he nor Hightower offered one. McCullough called the motion dead for lack of a second and asked if there was another motion.

Hightower said, “I think we should update our employee handbook at our next revision to include the employees not being able to bring their children to work.”

When a date for this was questioned, Hightower said to put June 1 in the motion. McCullough seconded Hightower’s motion. When discussion was called, Johnson said he thought it should take effect immediately. The vote was 2 to 1 with Johnson voting against it.

McCullough asked Johnson if he wanted to do another motion and he said no.

Lamb questioned the wording of what would be in the handbook. He asked if they meant employees could not bring their children to work to stay, but it was OK if their child came into see them.

Hightower agreed that was what he meant.

In a telephone call to Johnson on Tuesday when asked if this was happening in a certain department or was a certain person, Johnson said that he was not going to say but that the commission was advised by Thompson that the issue should be covered in the handbook.

In checking with the heads of county departments, most indicated that children were not accompanying parents to work.

Public Works Director Shaun West said that he did not know of any employees in his departments bringing children to work. He said that his departments, road and bridge, noxious weed, solid waste, the park, did not really lend themselves to employees bringing their children to work with them.

However, health department Director Amanda Snyder said the breast feeding peer counselor is using her baby in demonstrations for client breastfeeding appointments.

Snyder said that at the client breastfeeding and breastfeeding support appointments, it gives the client a sense that this person working with them knows what they are talking about and they can trust and confide in that person with their breastfeeding concerns.

She said that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) encourages peer counselors to do this and it has been done before by counselors at the health department.

In a later phone call, Thompson said that the issue of children in the workplace had been talked about as being a liability several years ago but had never been put in the handbook.

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