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Should You Have an Employee Pets Policy?

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Should your business have an employee pets policy?

Dogs are man's best friend and cats are the best companions, so it's only natural for many employees to want to bring their furry little comrades to the office with them.

Since pets at work are not strictly illegal in most places, should your workplace implement a pets policy that allows them? Here are some pros, cons, and tips on what your possible pets policy should include:

Potential Pros

The pros are fairly obvious: If you allow your employees to bring their pups to work, this can lead to a happier working environment for them. In turn, that may make them more productive and boost employee morale.

This can apply to other non-pet owners as well, as having a dog around may help to create a friendlier environment, fostering relationships that otherwise may not exist, and boosting overall productivity as well.

Potential Cons

But as warm and furry as they may be, dogs can also be distracting in the workplace, in more ways than one. They could lead to employees tending to their animals more than their work. They can also trigger allergic reactions by some employees, or even cause chaos if they're unruly.

In addition, there is of course a liability issue to be concerned about when you allow pets at your workplace. What happens if a dog bites one of your patrons or customers, or one of your employees? Allowing dogs in the office comes with this risk.

What a Pets Policy Can Include

If you decide to allow pets at work, having a policy in writing ensures that certain terms are known to everyone, and can help shield your business from liability. Here are a few suggestions on what your pets policy, may want to include:

  • General expectations. It's always good to state your general expectations when it comes to employees' responbilities for bringing pets to work.
  • Control. An employee's dog should not be your responsibility. Make sure it's clearly stated that employees who bring their pets to the workplace still maintain exclusive control over their pets. Make it the employee's responsibility to ensure that her pet does not get out of control.
  • Limits. You may want to consider limits such as how many pets will be allowed, what parts of your office they're allowed in, and what happens if a pet causes an accident. You may also want to state that if a pet attacks a human, it will immediately be barred from the workplace.

Last but not least, make sure all your employees sign the policy and are aware of its contents.

There are, of course, some laws regarding service animals that your business may have to abide by, regardless of your internal pet policy. For personal advice about a pets policy at your workplace, consider consulting an experienced employment lawyer near you.

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