Employer Obligations for Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals, and Bringing Companion Pets To Work
Service dogs (and service horses) have a long, beloved and valued history of performing daily activities of living for people. However lately many of us have noticed a lot more animals in public places and they don’t always appear to be working. Kangaroos on planes, a ferret in the grocery store, small horses on the sidewalk can be surprising. While service dogs are respected and certain pets have always been welcome in the local hardware store, it’s still often surprising to see a pig sniffing through the grocery store or waterfowl sitting on a plane in the seat next to you. As an employer it’s important to get a handle on what is a service dog vs a support animal vs a pet. Because even if you don’t have any situations with employees, you’ll still likely face such a situation with a customer so it’s important to know what to do and just as importantly what not to do.
Then there are support animals whose very definition causes many problems. Law allows some types of support animals or in some states, allow them in the workplace (or business). Other types of support that animals provide or in other states, laws do not require allowing them access. So it’s important to understand what is and isn’t a support animal.
Then there’s the issue of pets in the workplace. Because when employers such as Amazon’s new office in Seattle’s 4,000 employees, bring roughly 3,000 dogs to work each day, it rapidly becomes a routine expectation of many applicants and existing employees to do the same at your workplace. So you’ll certainly want to give the idea some thought before fending off an onslaught of requests and disappointing employees who will now think your workplace is hopelessly old school. However, you don’t have to let your workplace turn into a barnyard either. However before you say no, consider that science has shown dogs are great for reducing stress in the workplace. Additionally since most dogs get along better in groups than many persons, we could likely learn valuable lessons in teamwork from our dogs. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll need a plan and rules because it’s highly likely it’s won’t be the dogs or other critters that will cause the big problems, rather it will be the owners. You don’t want what was meant to be a perk turn into a conflict that causes hard feelings or worse, turnover.
This webinar will help you understand the differences between service animals, support animals, therapy animals, companion animals and understand your obligations. We’ll also cover some best guidelines for setting up a Bring Your Pets To Work Workplace.
- What is a service animal.
- What you can and can’t ask a person with a service animal.
- Equines as service horses in the workplace. What are the guidelines for a service horse.
- What every non-horse person employer needs to know about service horses. Because they are horses.
- What is an emotional support animal.
- What you can ask regarding an emotional support animal.
- Do you have obligations regarding support animals?
- The big difference between service and support animals.
- Handling challenges from service animal users regarding other support animals and pets in the workplace.
- Pets in the workplace – best practices and guidelines.
- How to start a civilized bring your dog to work program.
- The single biggest cause of problems in Bring Your Pets To Work Workplaces. It’s so not what you think.
- The most important thing to do to have all kinds of animals peacefully coexist in a workplace.
Teri Morning, MBA, MS, SPHR, SPHR-CA is the President of her own HR Consulting firm and Principal Partner in a new company HindsightHR 2013 Employee Relations and Investigation Management software. She has over 15 years human resource and training experience in a variety of professional fields, including finance, retail, distribution, architectural, engineering, consulting, manufacturing (union), public sector and both profit and non-profit company structures. She has consulted with employers on... View Full Profile
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