The HR Forum

Assistance Dog in the workplace

Hi there,

I've been advised that we have an employee who is on the list to receive an assistance dog for their hearing difficulties and I would like to ask for advice from anyone that has experience of an assistance dog in the workplace.

We want to be as supportive as possible with the employee however I am already aware that another member of the same team is allergic to animals so that made me wonder what other challenges there may be.

We've also had a situation previously where an employee  at a social event and had a major panic when she saw a cat nearby so I wonder how we will manage existing/new employees who may be scared of dogs and are in the same building or even meetings with the person whose dog it will be - internal and external meetings.

Obviously we'll work with the organisation who provide the dogs for advice but I would like to hear from an employers point of view so I can be as prepared as possible. 

I hope I don't come across as negative about this because it's definitely not the case and I just want to think about the day to day practicalities.

Many thanks in advance

Clare

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Replies

  • Morning Clare

    Thanks for posting such an interesting topic.  It led me to do a bit of research into this and I found this really useful website which has some very practical suggestions for how to manage an assistance dog in the workplace:

    http://hrnews.co.uk/assistance-dogs-at-work/

    I also know of some excellent deaf awarness training for business providers if you would like to DM me and I will send their details.

    In terms of the allergy sufferer it really depends on the extent of the allergy if it is relatively mild or if it may result in anaphylactic shock as clearly you would have to balance the reasonable adjustments for one against the duty of care for another,  In which case an OH report or involving a deaf charity for advice as Chrissy suggests below may be the way forward.

    Good luck and do let us know how you get on.

    KR Sarah

    Assistance Dogs at work - what you need to know!
    Assistance dogs may not work directly for you, but do a loyal service to their human owners - and enable many workers with a disability to attend the…
  • Hi Clare,

    I'm afraid I don't have experience in this area but just a though for those who may be afraid of dogs- how about asking someone from a guide dog association/charity to come in and give a talk about the type of training the dogs undergo, how disciplined they are, what sort of things you might see them doing etc. and perhaps organise a little meet & greet session so people can get to know the dog and get used to him/her.

    Perhaps you could also make it a condition that the dog is to be kept on a lead at all times. Could you also have signs made up to be put around your site alerting visitors that there is a guide dog on this site/in this building?

    In terms of people being allergic to the dog, that one might be a bit trickier. Is it possible for people to move offices (either those who are allergic, or the employee with the dog)? Would an air purifier work? Would it be possible to vacuum the office daily to remove as much dog hair as possible?

    It would interesting to know how you get on with this, so please keep us updated. Good luck!

    Best wishes,

    Chrissy

    • Hi Chrissy,

      Thanks for coming back to me.

      We did think about an introduction type process. If I am honest, I think we will have more issues keeping the other staff away from the dog than we will anyone fearing it much!

      It is difficult though because this may be a year or more away or it could be sooner so I am looking to get the basic information together. Unfortunately we can't  move someone to another office but we will have to think about where their desks are located.

      I always find these new situations fascinating because I am delving into areas that I have no experience in and it just makes you work the 'old grey matter' a bit more. Hearing from others as well is interesting.

      We have H & S here so I don't have to worry about things like the signs as such they're very reliable but again it's a new one for them to experience as well.

      I have a feeling I will be appealing to a limited audience asking for experience on this subject though so not anticipating 100s of responses.

      Have a good weekend.

      Clare

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