Adopting a Pets at Work Policy: Animal Magic or Legal Lions’ Den?
According to the online office space broker, a growing number of businesses are coming round to the idea that having a furry friend at work can increase productivity while also helping to relax staff.
A recent survey of small businesses commissioned by animal charity the Blue Cross found that 90% of companies who allowed dogs in the workplace noticed a positive change in the working environment; two-thirds claimed staff morale had lifted; 56% said pets had improved work relations; and half even noticed a decrease in absences.
However, while many people would welcome the company of a furry friend to brighten up their day, officebroker.com points out that there are serious issues employers should consider before they adopt a ‘pets-in-the-office’ policy.
Jim Venables, who launched officebroker.com in 2001 with fellow Managing Director Andy Haywood said: “Employers need to think long and hard before they adopt a pet policy. For example, does the company have suitable liability insurance to cover them if a canine colleague bites an employee or a feline friend scratches a VIP visitor?”
“Will the Company be liable to charges of discrimination if a job candidate is unable to take up a position because of an allergy or phobia to a particular pet?”
officebroker.com offers the following advice to any employer considering allowing staff to bring their pets into work with them:
- Ask employees opinions before adopting such a policy. If there are any objections consider these very carefully and look into the legal implications before going ahead
- Provide a written pet policy to ensure that any employee bringing their pet into work is aware of any restrictions and their own responsibilities and liabilities
- Establish off limits areas for animals, taking health and safety considerations into account
- Ensure that employees provide relevant documentation to prove that their pets are vaccinated
- Let staff know that noisy, destructive or disruptive pets will be banned from the office
- Ensure that you do not break any contractual arrangements with your landlord
Andy Haywood, MD officebroker.com
“Serviced office providers are telling us that they are receiving an increasing number of requests from tenants whose staff are keen to bring their pets into the office,” said Andy. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that this increase in demand may have come about because more people are finding themselves living alone and are reluctant to leave their pets at home all day without company.”
“It is mainly our independent office space providers and landlords who allow their tenants to bring pets into work. While some of our larger commercial office space providers may dismiss such requests outright, others are open to the idea of having well behaved animals in the workplace, recognizing it may enhance the environment and be considered an added perk by many staff,” continues Andy. “However, we would strongly advise any company considering this to do their homework and ensure they have well though out policies in place.”
He adds: “If you are a business looking for office space with a pet policy already in place, officebroker.com can point you in the right direction!”