Pawternity leave is a relatively new concept in employee benefits where employers offer paid time off to employees who have recently bought or adopted a pet (I’m talking mainly dogs or cats – you probably won’t get time off for a new goldfish!).
This leave is intended to give pet owners the necessary time to settle their new pets into their homes, similar to how parental leave works for new parents. The duration of pawternity leave can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the company’s policy. Companies such as Mars Petcare, the makers of Whiskas and Pedigree, and BrewDog have been early adopters of this benefit.
We conducted a poll on our LinkedIn to find out what people really think of pawternity leave. Over 2,600 people responded and while the majority of people are against the idea (58%), 30% think employers should offer additional paid leave to new pet parents. But why? What are the benefits of offering this perk?
The benefits for employers
By offering pawternity leave, companies promote a pet-friendly environment, while also demonstrating empathy towards their employees’ life outside work.
Some workers feel that pet-related work policies are inclusive, noting that not everyone will have children and will therefore miss out on parental leave. By allowing employees time off to care for their pets, employers can show their respect and appreciation for their staff’s diverse lifestyles and needs.
Additionally, many people feel that their pets are part of the family and are almost like children to their owners. Pets can provide emotional support, companionship, and joy to their owners, especially during stressful times. And time spent with pets is shown to reduce blood pressure, boost mood, and lower stress levels. This means that pawternity leave policies may ultimately result in happier, healthier, and more productive employees.
This unique perk can also boost your business’s ability to attract and retain talent and sets a company apart in the eyes of potential employees who are looking to become pet owners.
Why it may not be such a good idea…
Despite the many benefits, there are several challenges of offering pawternity leave.
While many feel it is an inclusive benefit, one argument is that it is not applied equally to all employees. For instance, if only half of your workforce owns a pet, that means the other half won’t qualify for the extra time off, which is therefore not promoting equality.
There are also challenges around defining the policy. As it’s a fairly new concept, what’s included in the benefit varies widely from company to company, which can make it challenging for businesses to define and implement.
Of course, there’s always a risk that some employees might misuse such policies. For example, an employee might claim they have a new pet when they don’t, just to get some extra time off.
And ultimately it could also be costly to implement. These costs could come in the form of lost productivity during the employee’s absence or the need to hire temporary staff.
The future of pawternity leave
The future of pawternity leave is a topic of much debate. On one hand, it’s seen as a progressive step towards recognising the importance of pets in people’s lives and promoting a healthy work-life balance. On the other, critics argue it’s a fad that may not be sustainable in the long run.
It is more than just a trendy perk though; it reflects a shift in societal attitudes towards pets and their role in our lives. As more people view pets as family members, the demand for pet-friendly policies, including pawternity leave, is likely to grow. Companies that adopt such policies early on may gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent.
However, the sustainability of pawternity leave depends on several factors. For one, companies need to ensure that policies are applied fairly and don’t inadvertently create divisions among employees. They also need to consider the potential costs and disruptions associated with employees taking time off.
Its success will largely depend on how it’s perceived by employees and society at large. If it’s seen as a genuine effort to support employees’ wellbeing, it’s likely to be embraced. But if viewed as a gimmick or an unnecessary indulgence, it may face resistance.
With careful planning and clear guidelines, it has the potential to become a sustainable practice that benefits both employees and employers.
If you are looking for a talented new professional to join your team, or seeking a new opportunity yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.