On Friday 22nd June, it’s ‘Bring Your Dog To Work Day’.
Participating businesses will welcome employees’ dogs into the workplace to raise money for charity.
Supporters of the initiative maintain that allowing employees to bring their four-legged furry companions to work helps reduce their stress levels, improve job satisfaction and increase staff morale. It can also encourage team bonding.
However, it may leave many employers with doubts. Are you scared a dog will misbehave and wreak havoc? Will you need to rearrange your workplace to accommodate them? What if you have employees who are very anxious around dogs? What happens if a dog becomes violent? Will they become a distraction? Have they had all their vaccinations? How will you clients or service users react?
While there is no specific law in place about bringing dogs to work, employers must remember their duty to ensure the safety, health and welfare, in so far as is reasonably practicable, of employees. This means that you should carry out a risk assessment for each and every dog that an employee wishes to bring into work.
Risk assessments should look at, for example, the risks of injuries caused by the dog biting, scratching or knocking someone over, who is allergic to dogs, who will visit the area where the animal will be and how the animal will evacuate the premises if there is an emergency.
Other things to think about include:
It is not always possible to allow dogs or other animals into the workplace, for example, where hygiene is paramount.
You should seek written permission from everyone in the workplace. This will alert you to the fact that some employees may suffer from allergies or have a phobia of dogs.
It is important that the dog is well-trained and well-behaved. If it is going to run riot around the office, it is not going to work.
Employees should be responsible for their dog at all times. They also need to clean up any mess and feed and take them for walks. The dog’s bedding, water bowls, and food should not be a tripping hazard to others or obstruct any emergency exits or passageways. Employees also need to ensure that they are clean and well-groomed.
If they are suffering from some disease or illness, they should not be brought into work to avoid it spreading.
Some companies take it one step further – not just allowing dogs in for one day, but making it more of a permanent affair.
As part of Nestlé’s wider health and wellbeing strategy, they permit employees to bring their dogs to the office. Pets are allowed to come to work through a “three phase programme”, which involves a questionnaire, two behaviour assessments, a health check and an in-office probation period.
Brewdog, a Scottish brewery, allow their staff to bring their dogs to work too. They also allow “paw-ternity leave”, whereby employees can take one week off work to settle in a new puppy or an older rescue dog to their family.
So has that given you paws for thought? Will you be letting your employees bring their dog to work?