How much is that Doggy in the workplace…cost?

Pets in the workplace – quick guide to what you should be aware of.

Bringing your pet to the workplace is not a new concept – it has been the option of many progressive workplaces for many years or even decades.  In today’s landscape there are some major risk that need to be addressed.  I thought about this one personally and whilst I am very fond of my canine friend at home or on the weekend I think he would be too much of a distraction at work.  Does anyone else feel the same?  I am not opposed to this work practice – there are many documented benefits about sociability, reduction in stress and even increases in productivity, but I can’t help but wonder where the line gets drawn.  Will we be taking our babies and kids to work soon too?

As a health and safety professional you may have been asked about introducing this into your workplace.  Here are some valuable tips to consider:

Consultation

It’s great to get everyone involved, but remember some people may not be comfortable with pets in the office. Make sure everyone has the chance to voice any concerns and work together to create guidelines for bringing pets to work.

Does your building allow this?

Approach building management to find out what the risks and requirements are. Be prepared with a checklist of areas they may be concerned with including your possible solutions.

Pet free or No Go Zones

Think about the areas that need to be made pet free at all times such as areas with food (canteen/kitchen/staff room).  You may need a policy around notification of pets attending meetings to  check if attendees are comfortable with pets being in the room.

Dogs or cats or birds oh my!

Will you allow all animals and species or will the policy be limited to dogs and cats.  What will be the requirements to assess suitability or sociability of the animal.  What will be the process if you have to ask an employee to remove the animal.

Medical safety

Owners should provide the most up-to-date vaccination certificate and flea and intestinal worming history. Dogs should have a C5 and cats should have a F4 vaccine. Remember young puppies or kittens, may have to wait until they have had their full schedule of vaccinations.

What legal documents might we need?

Any employee bringing a pet to work needs to sign a liability waiver. This lists any risks involved and makes the individual accountable for any legal situations that could arise, removing liability from the company.

How to cope with allergies and shedding in the office

Many Australians are allergic to pets. People often assume they’re allergic to the hair, when in fact they’re more likely allergic to a protein in cats’ saliva or the dander a dog produces. Cats are habitual groomers, which causes their saliva to get on their skin and coat while high-shedding dogs can also cause issues.

Cleaning and office health and safety

You may require more regular cleaning in an office with pets as there will be hair etc left behind from even the most fastidious of moggies.  What will be the policy on cleaning up after your pet and what happens if your golden retriever or british blue leaves a present in the bosses office.

There is much to think about but like most change if you are committed a thorough process you will find a suitable balance for this policy at your workplace.  For now at Safety People we will leave our pets at home and keep focussing on finding you the right talent or your next career move and leave the grooming to well presented candidates.