Employee Relations

What Every HR Manager Should Know About Pets in the Workplace – HR Affiliates Blog

It’s become a trend over the past several years for companies to allow pets in the workplace. Corporate juggernauts like Google, Amazon, and Etsy have all adopted policies that accommodate pets in the workplace. In this post, we focus on the benefits and drawbacks of making your business pet-friendly and what your company needs to do to stay legally protected.

Why your company culture should become pet-friendly

A substantial body of research exists that proves pets have profoundly positive effects on people’s mental and physical health. With this in mind, giving your employees the opportunity to bring their pets to work would positively affect your culture. Pets in the office will help alleviate stress, which could absolutely help your business with employee retention. Further, giving your employees the option to bring their pets to work will give your business a competitive advantage in recruiting top talent. More directly, over 66% of human resource officers report that interviewees ask about pet-friendly company policy. Because of these important factors at play, it’s probably a good idea that your company considers implementing a comprehensive pet policy.

What your company should consider

At the same time, you should also consider some inevitable consequences of allowing pets to enter the workplace. While the presence of pets can certainly relieve work-related pressure, pets can also distract employees. Additionally, some employees will understandably not be very excited about the presence of pets at work for a number of valid reasons, including allergies. To give your employees an appropriate option either to focus on work silently or simply to get away from pets, it would be a good idea for your company to establish a pet-free space.

Moving forward and keeping your business protected

Finally, and most importantly, your company should outline clear company policy in your employee handbook to stay legally compliant. While service and therapy animals are protected by the ADA, it’s best HR practice to create clear and specific guidelines for pets outside of that criteria. Further, to address issues like employees with allergies, potential pet bites or scratches, and other pet-related potential complications, research suggests that a carefully crafted and deliberately implemented company pet policy will help mitigate unforeseen problems. This kind of policy will also outline what breeds of dogs might not be best for the workplace, the recommended or required animal hygiene practices, and the state and federal guidelines for accommodations regarding pets in the workplace.

Drafting policy like this can be difficult, but we can help make this complex process a lot simpler. Give us a call today at 502-369-9163, and let’s get started.

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