There will be some situations where dogs are not appropriate. For example, in a kitchen, or a manufacturing site where there is a risk of contamination. However, in many cases there will be no legal reason why a dog cannot be in the workplace. That said, check whether or not there are any restrictions outlined in the organisation’s insurance policies and rental agreements. For example, having an animal in the car might invalidate some car insurance policies, and some rented work spaces might specifically state that dogs (with the exception of assistance dogs) are not permitted.
Any dogs on the premises will need to be considered as part of the employer’s duties under health and safety legislation. A risk assessment will need to be carried out and it is important that any hazards are identified, as well as any options for harm and risk mitigation. Dogs will also need to be incorporated into the fire safety risk assessment, for example to ensure that they are not blocking emergency exits, and to detail what to do in the event of a fire. Contact us if you wish this option to be added to a risk assessment.
There will be some logistical considerations if dogs are to be allowed in the office. For example, will the office need cleaning more regularly? Is the office ventilated sufficiently? There might be some no-go areas for dogs (office kitchens, for example) or alternatively, specific areas that are reserved for dogs and pet-loving employees. Other considerations might be ensuring that bins have lids, and that desks are equipped with a means to secure a dog lead.
A clear policy will help alleviate concerns over dogs in the office. Issues to consider include the following.
Finally, before allowing dogs to work, check that it is supported by other members of staff. As well as gauging general support levels for any change in policy, it is important to understand if any staff have a reason for not wanting a dog nearby. It is also imperative to have a clear policy for dealing with staff concerns and complaints.
Having dogs in the office does not need to be a cause for concern if proper steps are followed and there is a clear policy in place. Although it might take time to set up, in the long-term it is likely to lead to happier pet-owners and an overall improvement to the workplace and staff morale.
All we need to do now is get a dog!
Contact us should you require a risk assessment or to discuss the blog in more detail.