Bringing your dog to work: Luxury or liability?
One of the many perks of being a business owner is that you get to make the rules. Summer Fridays? They’re yours if you want them. An extra-long lunch? Nobody’s going to complain about that. Bringing your dog to work? Sure - but there are a few things you should know.
Understand local regulations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no specific standards about pets in the workplace, so there are no federal regulations to consider. But there may be state laws and local ordinances that you need to keep in mind, and these may depend on the type of business you have and your location.
For example, many locales have restrictions on animals in places where food is served or consumed. If your business is required to be inspected by the Board of Health, make sure your pet policy is in compliance with their regulations.
Please note that we are talking about pets here. Service animals are a different, shall we say, breed, and have different regulations.
Consider your customers and others
If you have a business where customers or vendors come to you, consider that some people are allergic or fearful of dogs. You should have an area where you can secure your dog if someone comes into your premises who doesn’t want to have contact with a dog. A sign on your door or window alerting people that there is a dog inside may also be a good idea.
The same is true for employees. It’s courteous to poll your employees before bringing your dog in, just to be sure that no one has an issue with it. Likewise, if your business is located in an office building or retail space that includes other businesses, a barking dog may be an issue for some of your neighbors. Courtesy suggests you discuss your plans with neighboring businesses ahead of time.
Be prepared if something happens
Even the best-behaved dog can get scared or nervous and may bite. Even if your dog has never been aggressive in the past, new surroundings and unfamiliar people may induce unprecedented behavior.
Of course, you want to take every possible precaution to make sure that your dog never bites or scratches anyone. But if it does happen a general liability insurance policy can protect you. The average dog bite claim, including defense and liability payments, is about $50,000, according to Tyler Peterson, Senior Vice President and Head of Professional Risks at Hiscox. So if you don’t currently have a general liability insurance policy for your business, get a quote today – before you bring your dog to work.