Dogs in the workplace is an idea that was started in Britain in 1996 as “Take Your Dog to Work Day”. It was a day where employees were allowed to bring their dogs along to their workplace for a day. The United States has followed the lead of Britain, with some businesses following the practice in 1999. After realizing the benefits of allowing employees to bring their dogs to work, the number of employers embracing this practice on a permanent basis is increasing constantly, with some of the most admired companies in the country allowing dogs.
Purpose and Scope
Our company has experienced an increase in the number of workers compensation claims among office workers. This phenomenon, along with increased length of hours worked per day, an increase of sick days taken, and a significant decrease in the overall satisfaction of employees. The addition of pets has a therapeutic benefit, and is shown to increase overall satisfaction of most employees.
It is generally assumed by employers that dogs in the workplace would be a nuisance and a distraction, and the level of cleanliness would suffer because of the dogs being in the building. It is also assumed that there is a significant risk of injuries because of bites and tripping injuries. Employers also assume that there may serious legalities regarding this practice
OSHA has no regulations disallowing the practice of employees bringing their dogs to the workplace. The General Duty Clause of Section 5 of 29CFR states that an employer must provide a workplace that is free of recognizable hazards that are likely to cause serious injury or death to employees. The addition of dogs does not violate this regulation. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, has no regulations regarding pets. Through research, I have been unable to find any government regulations regarding the practice.
There may be slight objections from our liability insurance carrier because of the concern of bites. There is no data available to support any claim on the part of an insurer that there is a significant risk of injury due to the presence of dogs. The risk of injuries associated with the presence of dogs in the workplace is minimized by the benefits their presence provides.
The American culture has evolved significantly over the years. Many couples nowadays are career couples, where both people work, and they opt to have pets instead of children, or wait until later in life to have children. The number of single person households has also increased with the breakdown of the “nuclear” family of the fifties and sixties. A large portion of these single person households has chosen to have pets as companions, primarily dogs and cats.
Americans have become a pet culture, with some pets being pampered to an extreme. The significant increase in the number of stores like PetSmart, and dollars spent on pets has increased significantly. Pet health insurance companies have appeared throughout the country. Progressive Insurance, one of the largest auto insurers in the country is even offering insurance for pets if they are injured in a vehicle accident.
Our work culture
A survey of our office work force indicates that a majority of them do own dogs, cats, or both. Because the majority of our office staff is pet owners, any objections would be minimal, and need to be accommodated. Available information indicates that once the practice was allowed, most objectors became dog tolerant, and some even became dog lovers
The labor involved to administrate this type of program would be minimal. There would have to be a policy in place regarding dogs, and a screening process for the dog and owner, and feasibility in their work area. Dog owners would have to be held responsible for their behavior and the clean up that comes with them.