Paws for thought – Some ground rules for pets in the office

Home Health & Safety Paws for thought – Some ground rules for pets in the office

Over the last few years, pet friendly workplaces have become increasingly common.

Large organisations such as Google and Amazon allow their employees to bring pets to work, and on home soil, Nestlé have been allowing their employees to bring their pets to work for almost three years and have noticed considerable changes in the workplace morale.

Having a ruff day? Pets being allowed into the workplace is a known stress-reliever. Who wouldn’t feel a little less stressed when you have your furry best friend to carry you through the day?

The pros for allowing pets into your workplace include:

  • The obvious stress relief, they make some staff feel more relaxed and comfortable;
  • Promoting positive interactions between staff as well as improving morale and increasing employee satisfaction. Pets can promote social interaction between staff;
  • Reducing pet care costs for those employees who work long hours or commute quite a distance to and from work;
  • It offers an improvement in company image as it may boost a customer’s perception of the business as a whole;
  • A possible decrease in employee turnover as allowing pets into the office is an attractive feature for most employees and may encourage staff to stay;
  • An increase in employee performance with employees working longer hours and taking fewer sick days because they won’t have to worry about rushing home or taking a sick day for a pet.

As well as the pros for employees, it’ll also add a little extra love and happiness to your pets lives and that must be the biggest pro to come out of it, after all.

There are however, cons that must be taken seriously when allowing pets into a working environment as it as your duty as an employer to make sure all your staff are comfortable and taken care of, not just the animal lovers.

Some issues that you will need to consider include:

  • A potential source of distraction to employees and obviously, the owner of the animal. If it is a dog, the animal will need to go out for walks and they could present a noise hazard from barking;
  • Employee allergies and phobias as some individuals may not be allowed to be around certain animals. Dog and cat allergies can, in some individual’s cases, be very severe. There is also the fact that some phobias can be deeply ingrained, and employers may need to think about pet-free zones;
  • Damage to company equipment and furniture could also happen due to accidents pets may have or them chewing, biting at equipment;

Legal issues and insurance issues are always a potential problem in these kind of scenarios, from a pet biting an employee or a dog tripping an employee with their lead. A dog may invalidate a company’s liability insurance and compromise its fire safety certificate unless a proper risk assessment is carried out.

Of course, there are measures that businesses will have to put into place to make sure that everything is done for the health, safety and welfare of all staff. A comprehensive ‘Pets in the Workplace’ policy should be drawn up to make sure all eventualities are taken into account (like those cons mentioned above), so that the experience is both pleasant and safe for all those involved.

Rules to help ensure a happy and safety pet scheme may include:

  • The owner accepts full responsibility for the animal;
  • Pets must be registered and proof of ownership, up to date injections and insurance must be shown;
  • Owner is to clear up after their pet;
  • If anyone in the workplace objects to an animal or its behaviour it must be removed;
  • Your office must be signed to say there are animals in there;
  • No toys in the workplace (except in a cage) due to trip hazards;
  • Dogs must also be insured for third-party liability claims and are checked for fleas and worms at least once every six months.
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Elena Boura