Q- My client has been asked by a couple of employees whether they can bring their dogs to work. What things do they need to consider?
A- Whilst it may not necessarily be widespread, there is a growing trend of businesses allowing employees to bring their dogs to work with them. Although your client is under no obligation to agree to this themselves, there are several points that are worth considering before they make a decision.
A common determining factor for those who allow staff to bring their dogs to work is the positive impact this can have on morale. Several studies have shown that being in close contact with animals can be beneficial for an individual’s mental health, helping to reduce stress by creating a comforting environment. Therefore, your client should bear this in mind as it may lead to increased productivity levels.
Your client may also consider how this could be a persuasive tool when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent, presenting them as a flexible and employee-focused enterprise. Arranging and paying for pet care during working time can be a considerable burden for employees, therefore removing this obligation can help your client stand out amongst the crowd in an increasingly competitive job market.
Despite the potential benefits, your client should consider any adverse effects this may have, as although a handful of employees may be keen to bring their dogs to work, some colleagues may be less enamoured with the idea. To get a true sense of how employees feel about this your client may decide to conduct a staff survey. If a large proportion of staff is against the idea, then it would be unwise to proceed.
There could also be health and safety implications that your client will need to consider. This will differ greatly depending on the nature of the workplace however a risk assessment should be carried out to determine whether it would be feasible to allow dogs in work.
On the other hand, if the majority of staff are behind the decision to allow dogs in work your client should consider introducing a workplace policy on the matter. This will allow them to outline any rules which employees, and dogs, must adhere. For example, it would be an idea to outline specific areas at work where dogs are allowed to be, with places such as kitchens and bathrooms generally considered to be off-limits. Policies should also confirm that employees are responsible for their own dog’s behaviour and that dogs who become a disruption may have their privileges revoked.
Ultimately it will be up to your client to decide whether they want to allow staff to bring their dogs to work, however, they should take care with any decision to ensure this is for the benefit of their workforce as a whole.