Workplace Rights: Pet theories

A survey by insurance firm Petplan found that a third of its customers admitted to skipping work to look after their pets, often for a week or more.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Some companies are introducing formal 'peternity leave' policies, granting extra time off for employees to care for poorly animals, and compassionate leave when a pet dies. Other organisations, such as Google, have gone further by permitting staff to bring their furry friends to work. Animal charity Blue Cross claims that the therapeutic presence of dogs can reduce stress, lift staff morale and increase productivity. But what about the pet-falls - unruly mutts, scuffles (should cats be allowed in the workplace as well as dogs?) and the potential for worker distraction? Not to mention the concerns of those who suffer from allergies or don't get on with animals. Then there's the story of Kaiser the python, who escaped from his cage in Google's New York office and was later found sleeping behind a filing cabinet. And a recent UK tribunal case concerned a woman sacked for refusing to remove her goldfish after they died and began to smell. All in all, it's advisable to lay down strict ground rules before allowing staff their creature comforts. Without being too dogmatic, of course ...

- Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors - e-mail: employment@lewissilkin.com.

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