Macee Hoffman just recently gave birth to her third child, Jesse. But already, the baby has gone back to work with his mom, who was obliged to find an employer who would accommodate her needs as a new mother after she was forced into unpaid maternity leave at her prior workplace.
According to the 27-year-old, the restaurant where she had worked as a hostess wouldn’t allow her to sit on a stool in between helping customers, despite having provided managers with a doctor’s note explaining that she needed to be off of her feet. That’s when, at seven months pregnant, she became unemployed, looking for a new way to earn an income for her growing family. Luckily, the owner of a local cafe, Cynthia Wilson, was simultaneously looking for a new cashier.
“I believe I was eight months pregnant when I started working for Cynthia at the Parsnipity Cafe,” Hoffman tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It was shortly after that, maybe a week or two, when we talked about bringing the baby to work.”
Wilson told her local Kansas publication The Wichita Eagle, that she contacted Parenting in the Workplace Institute, a Utah-based group that helps employers around the country develop best practices for starting a babies-at-work program, to learn more about the state laws that they would need to work around. From there, Wilson and Hoffman went over guidelines and defined some ground rules that were put into practice when Hoffman returned to work with Jesse on Monday.
“I have other children that I have to take to school before I have to be at work. So after I get them taken to school, I get to work,” Hoffman explains. “If [Jesse] is not fussy, I get a few things done around the cafe before we open and then I’ll get him out and feed him before we open. If he’s fussy when I get to work I tend to his needs and then I get started on my stuff before we open.”
The Wichita Eagle additionally reported that Wilson agreed to care for Jesse if he gets too fussy while Hoffman is on the job. According to a post to the Parsnipity Cafe Facebook page, others have done what they can to help out, as well.
Hoffman explains that it’s important to be able to bring her baby to work, since he needs to be at least six weeks old to start daycare, and childcare is very expensive.
“It's also important for me to be able to work because it's hard to live off of one income,” she adds. “My income along with my husband's usually gets us by on our bills for the month!”
And although the efforts of her boss, and her accommodating customers, haven’t gone unnoticed, Hoffman says that there’s much more that needs to be done, on a larger scale, to help working mothers.
“Most small businesses can't provide paid maternity leave,” Hoffman says. “Until we get serious about this issue as a country and create policy that supports young families, parents will have to find creative solutions.”
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