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New Hampshire Program Will Allow State Employees To Take Infants To Work

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Starting in January, New Hampshire state employees will be able to take part in a program that will allow them to take their infant children to work, Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday.

Sununu signed an executive order allowing parents and eligible guardians of infants between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 months to bring their child to work, so long as their state agency or department has elected to participate; the worker receives prior written authorization from the agency's human resource officer; the worker has completed an individualized plan for the infant; there's no safety hazard or concern to the parent of the infant; and there is limited disruption in the workplace.

Sununu said over 20 state departments and agencies have chosen to participate so far. The program will be based on programs in several other states, including Arizona, Vermont and Washington.

"This initiative can provide working families with options to give their kids the healthiest possible start to life while allowing them to remain in the workforce if they choose to do so," Sununu said at a news conference.

When asked how many state employees this could affect currently, Sununu said "it's not that many, to be honest, but part of doing this is we hope it's more. We're trying to encourage and attract young people into the workforce."

The policy says that "habitually disruptive or sick infants are not permitted in the workplace "and that parents participating in the program are required to comply with current state regulations governing child immunizations. The infants shall not be brought to meetings unless approved in advance by the agency's human resource officer and the meeting organizer.

Diaper changes and disposal must take place only in a restroom, the policy said. The employer will provide at least one diaper changing station in their facility. Supervisors must allow lactating mothers flexible schedules to breastfeed and/or express milk.

"This will alleviate a lot of that anxiety" that comes with the stress of being a new parent, said Sarah Stewart, commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources who approved the policy. "I look forward to supporting the new moms and dads that work in our department."

A spokeswoman for New Hampshire's largest state employee union, the State Employee Association, said the union wasn't consulted and that there are agencies it doesn't apply to.

(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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