Having pets around in your office might contribute a lot to staff productivity.

Employees may feel more encouraged to interact with one another and feel more relaxed, which, in turn, may also reduce stress and help them work to the full. According to some, a pet-friendly office is likely to have more millennials among its file and rank.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that a pet-friendly policy might have its hidden pitfalls. Since the wellbeing of both pets and employees is of great importance, one has to be aware of several legal liabilities that a pet-friendly policy might entail.

What if an employee can’t be around dogs?

We have to be aware of the fact that not every employee enjoys the company of dogs. Some people may not be eager to spend time around dogs for health reasons. Square Foot has found out that staff members suffering from pet allergies can have mild to severe symptoms while being around dogs in the office. According to The Americans with Disabilities Act, an allergy can sometimes be recognized as a disability. Therefore, should your office not take heed of people with pet allergies, the chances are you are discriminating against a staff member with a disability, which means you are flouting the law.

You should also take into account the fact that some employees might have fear of dogs. If Square Foot is to be believed, fear of dogs is a very common phobia nowadays. Some employees might feel unsafe or they may even fail to produce any work in the presence of our four-legged friends.

You could try creating a dog-friendly area in the office, preventing dogs from venturing into other specific office spaces where they are unwanted by particular employees. The drawback of such solution may lie in those staff members feeling isolated from the rest of the group.

Liability insurance regarding pets in your Office

The decision to bring pets into your workplace can lead to the company’s increased liability. Should employees or customers of your company incur an injury by a pet or should a pet inflict any damage upon the building you are renting, your business might he held accountable. 

In order to understand the potential influence of pets on your liability as well as on your business insurance, you are advised to speak to your current insurance company. Perhaps you will also need to spend some money on an additional policy on business liability, regulating the presence of pets in the workplace. 

Apart from taking out liability insurance, you are also supposed to come up with a plan in case any of employees is bitten by a dog while in the office. This plan of yours is to include many things: how to promptly gather information about such an incident, how to report the bite to the authorities, how to make sure that the employee is immediately treated by health care workers, how to remove the perfidious dog from your workplace, etc.

Dog insurance as a means of protecting your employees

It should come as no surprise that incidents might occur after you bring several dogs into the workplace for long periods of time. Dogs’ roughhousing might lead to injuries, let alone dog fights, which are also a common occurrence. Needless to say, your bill will come out at a lump sum.

Pet insurance may prove useful for owners to cope with unexpected bills for vet and medical services. In case your dog gets into a fight or has an access to the food it is not supposed to eat, or if any other incident presents itself in the workplace, pet insurance is your best bet to alleviate the financial burden that will surely ensue after a visit to the animal ER or vet. It would be prudent to ask your employees to familiarize themselves with pet insurance policies prior to bringing their pets to the workplace.

There exist other risks of having dogs in the office, namely the spread of diseases. Kennel Cough is one of them. It is a highly contagious ailment that can spread very quickly with dogs are around in a cramped space. A dog will have a dry and hacking cough that might last from one to three weeks. Other dogs might become infected pretty much the same way the humans get cough. Given the fact that the dogs find themselves in close quarters, the spread of the disease might gather steam quite rapidly. Hence, it is advisable to get dogs vaccinated against Kennel Cough before they end up in your office.

Can pets distract you from work?

Pets may well reduce stress or create a friendly atmosphere inside your office, but a decent number of them under one roof might also be distracting. Dogs running around the office might distract employees’ attention, and surely their barking in the background is not something you want to hear while participating in a conference.

Should you decide to implement a pet-friendly policy, think of the ways to fit it in with employee safety. This could imply restricting the number of pets wandering around the office every day as well as requiring that employees bring their pets in crates or baby gates so that they are not disturbed while in the middle of an important meeting or call. A good idea would also be to introduce a pet policy, which would set the minimum age and training requirements for pets, determine the out-of-bounds areas within the office, list vaccines needed to be done, and many more.

You might find yourself in a difficult situation once faced with a task of informing an employee that their pet’s behaviour can’t be put up with any more and that this pet is no longer welcome in the office. However, there is no means available to prevent it from happening. What you can do, though, is to lay out a succinct and clear pet policy that employees will stick to and carefully consider before bringing their pets. This might help you a lot avoiding problems in future.

There are lots of offices that have implemented a successful pet-friendly policy. Nevertheless, a decision to have one requires careful examination. Think about all possible scenarios that might appear once such policy is introduced. Learn what other employees think of it. In case it’s everyone’s wish, go for it.