In a recent episode of Stella, http://www.sky.com/tv/show/stella the new next door neighbour took his dog to work. I have visited some clients who have had dogs on their premises both inside and out and it has got me thinking about having pets at work and the considerations for employers. In most cases it would be situations where the pet of choice to be taken to work would be a dog but sometimes it can be a cat or other animal. In some ways it solves the problem of leaving the pet at home in solitary confinement, but it can cause other issues.
Let’s face it, most employers wouldn’t tolerate an employee bringing a pet to work, but there are certain circumstances where it would be beneficial.
An example that immediately springs to mind is where a blind employee has a guide dog. It would be discriminatory for an employer to ban the dog from the workplace and relaxing any rules would be a reasonable adjustment.
Many stray cats take up residence on commercial premises and even Downing Street has its own cat called Larry (which apparently has a Twitter account https://twitter.com/DowningStCat) brought in to kill mice in the parliamentary buildings.
Research done in the US a few years ago showed that employees who are able to take a dog to work are less stressed and their colleagues, who may not have a dog of their own, may benefit. The research found that morale and commitment to work all increased over the week that the dogs were at work.
Since 1996 Take Your Dog To Work Day has existed in the UK and takes place every year http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_Your_Dog_to_Work_Day . Before allowing pets at work there are issues to consider however.
Allergies might be of concern. I once had to provide advice to a client where an employee had submitted a grievance with an allegation that the MD’s dog roaming the offices was causing him breathing problems. I did advise that an occupational health report was recommended to confirm the health situation and whether the employee was classed as disabled. In the meantime I advised that the dog should remain outside the offices. To prevent the allergies from becoming a problem dogs should be banned from communal social areas and in particular the canteen for obvious hygiene purposes. Dogs are not as welcome in the UK as they are in France.
Some people are afraid of dogs so it would not be fair for them to be faced with their colleague’s dog in their vicinity without guidelines about at least keeping the animal on a lead.
Some dogs can be aggressive, therefore only well behaved dogs should be allowed into work. They should not be allowed to show any aggressive tendencies otherwise they should be banned.
To prevent any issues arising and for harmonious co-existence there should be a clear pets at work policy. If you need such a policy let us know.