Work is probably the most stressful place you have to go every day. Dealing with obnoxious coworkers, angry managers, and unrealistic deadlines constantly can take their toll on your mental health and wellbeing. However, having your emotional support animal or service animal with you during these long, stressful days can ease the distress you feel. What are the official rules on bringing your emotional support animal or service animal to work? Here is a short guide to navigating the workplace with your emotional support animal or service animal.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. “Reasonable accommodations” encompasses anything that allows the individual to change how they complete their jobs in a way that does not cause the employer undue hardship. So, trained service dogs are allowed in the workplace and employers must allow them. However, emotional support animals are more of a grey area. Ask your employer about bringing your emotional support animal to work, and chances are they will work with you to meet this accommodation. Unfortunately, they can refuse this request.
Letter of Certification
One way to improve your chances of being allowed to bring your emotional support animal to work is to have an up to date letter of certification. A mental health professional can evaluate your situation and write you one. Your emotional support animal letter of certification must be updated at least once a year. Presenting this letter to your employer will show the legitimacy of your request.
If you plan on bringing your emotional support animal or service animal into the workplace, make sure it is extremely well behaved and trained. This will ensure your animal does not cause any damage to persons or property or drastically disrupt the workplace, which would be grounds for your employer to ask you to remove it.
Your coworkers may not know the proper etiquette for how to act around service animals. They may ask why you need a service animal if your disability is not visible. You do not have to feel obligated to share the details of your condition with them if you do not want to. They may also want to pet and play with your service animal. In this situation, you can politely explain that it is working and shouldn’t be distracted.
Asking your employer about bringing your service animal or emotional support animal to work can feel immensely intimidating. However, with the right tools and preparation, it doesn’t have to be. Sit down with your employer with your letter of certification on hand and have a conversation about potentially having your animal accompany you. Bringing your service animal into the office might be awkward at first and bring unwanted attention, but this will fade quickly with the proper communication. If you need an emotional support animal letter of certification or service animal registration, then visit United Support Animals. One of our professionals can help set you up with everything you need!