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What are our health and safety responsibilities and/or liabilities relating to children visiting the workplace?

Q: We are becoming increasingly concerned about staff members having their children in an office-based work environment. One staff member brings a one-year-old child into the office. The child is allowed wander through the building unsupervised. We also have three staff members with school-age children who wander around a community centre between 4pm−5pm on a daily basis, accessing computers intended for clients.

While we promote ourselves as a ‘family-friendly employer’, there must be a point where the risks associated with this type of behaviour can no longer be seen as acceptable by the employer. What are our health and safety responsibilities and/or liabilities in relation to this practice?

A: One of the best ways to manage this issue is to introduce a clear policy that sets out the requirements for any worker who wishes to bring children to the workplace for an extended period of time. You can put together a policy after consulting with workers and assessing the children‘s health and safety risks.

Generally, policies such as these require workers to supervise their children at all times. A practical issue for the organisation will be how to check that workers comply with that requirement.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Children in the workplace for current advice.

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