Office Dogs: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

By Andy Willis
14 May 2019

So, I was going to write about Brexit this month. But we’re not doing that now. It’s been put on hold.

Instead, I’m going to cover the next biggest story in the UK workplace, one that has been giving bosses months of sleepless nights: should you allow dogs in the office?

Bring your dog to work day, everyday 

Wait, do people actually bring their dogs into work?

They sure do. According to one survey, as many as 8% of the UK population are allowed to take their dogs to work. There’s even a national day dedicated to it, ‘Bring your dog to work day’ in June. 

And bosses allow it?

Some do. Nestlé, for example, has an office dog policy. And I know what you’re thinking, dogs and chocolate don’t mix. But don’t worry, Nestlé only allows them in the head office.

Okay, but why do people want to work with their dogs?

Because lots of people love their dogs. Plus, research suggests that dogs have a positive effect on your workforce. Apparently, you can increase productivity, reduce stress and encourage collaboration between workers by introducing a few dog colleagues.

Dog colleagues?

Colleagues who are dogs, yes.

Aren’t there laws about having animals in the workplace?

Yes, and most are common sense. For example, you can’t have a dog around food production, manufacturing or packaging. And you can’t bring a dog to a building site because they don’t make dog sized hard hats. (That’s a joke, obviously. It’s because dogs make terrible scaffolders.)    

But what if my staff are scared of or allergic to dogs?

Well, there are two options:

  1. Go down the route of companies like Google and set up “dog-friendly” and ‘no-go’ areas for dogs.
  2. Don’t let staff bring their dogs to work.

The best thing to do is to ask your employees first. If a lot of them are against the idea, it’s unwise to proceed.

What about if I’m a cat person?

The same rules apply. But cats and dogs don’t really mix, so I’d choose one or the other.  

How do I stop dogs misbehaving in the office?

If you invite dogs into the workplace, you need to write policies on the rules that employees and their dogs should adhere to.  

Remember, the dogs probably won’t read your policy. You’re going to have to rely on their owners to follow the rules.

What about business insurance, liability, fire safety, risk assessments—

Okay, I get it. There’s a lot more to consider than we have time to cover in this article. But it’s worth remembering that ‘assistance dogs’ already play an important role in the UK workforce.

Many businesses open their doors to guide dogs to support workers with impaired vision. And some workers in the UK even use medical detection dogs to sniff out allergens. So it’s not impossible to make your business dog-friendly.  

So, should I allow office dogs?

I think a more important question is: do you want to allow office dogs? And you probably knew the answer to that before you started reading…

If a dog-friendly environment suits your business culture and style, then go for it. If it doesn’t, then that’s fine too. 

Thanks for reading…

As I said at the start, this article was originally going to be about Brexit. But I got to write about dogs instead. And that was a lot of fun, so thanks for taking the time to read it.

If you do want to have a chat about Brexit and how leaving the EU is going to impact your workforce, please give us a call (we’ve done a lot of research).

Or, to get more advice on employment law and HR—including how to ‘dog-proof’ your office—speak to one of our friendly experts today. Call 01455 858 132  or request a call back here. 

About the Author

Andy Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.