Pet Parents Being Offered Paw-ternity Leave From Employers
I’ll never forget when my boyfriend got his first dog. Jake was just a 10-week old pup and John had read all the books about how to intro this pint sized black lab to his new family. What the books couldn’t predict was that Jake was lonely for his litter-mates, didn’t like being crated and cried non-stop when left alone – particularly at night. It got so bad that John came to me one day saying, “I think I made a big mistake.”
Well, a little adjustment of the routine such as tiring him out before bed time, scheduling away time when Jake could be purposely left on his own for short and eventually longer periods of time as well as putting a warm and cozy clothing article in the crate (that smelled like John) made a huge difference in helping him settle and in the end, Jake was our best buddy for close to 15 years.
The bottom line is that it takes time and patience to introduce a new animal to your home and the process just can’t be rushed. Thankfully some progressive minded employers “get it” and are actually granting time off to new pet parents. It’s true! Pet insurance provider Petplan conducted a survey that suggests almost one in 20 new pet owners in the UK has been offered a little time off to help acclimatize the new addition.
Aptly labelled “Paw-ternity” leave, the time offered ranges from a few extra hours during the day to as much as several weeks – with pay and often in addition to their regular vacation allowance. C’mon North America, here’s a bandwagon worth jumping on.
Related: New Puppy Checklist
Of course we assume companies that already cater to pet parents and fur-kids will take the lead on this type of initiative, so imagine my surprise when I learned that Manchester based IT company BitSol Solutions decided to offer employees three weeks paid leave when they bring home their furry little bundle of joy. Company owner Greg Buchanan was inspired to make the offer after experiencing first-hand how long it took for him and his partner to settle their own pooches when first brought home. He understands the effort needed to develop a solid, trusting relationship with a new critter and feels that by paying it forward and being flexible with his staff, he’ll build a loyal, hardworking team. To me, it creates a precedent that challenges other industries to start thinking outside-of-the-box when it comes to offering up perks that are truly meaningful to their staff.
Another who decided to not just talk the talk but walk the walk is Mars Petcare, who led the original charge when it came to pet leave. The pet food manufacturer has a formal policy that allows employees 10 hours paid leave when they adopt a new pet; time that can be used to carry out training, visit the vet, or just hang with the new family member. Even better, employees don’t have to go through those painful good-byes or scoot out the back door while Rover isn’t looking. They can bundle up their little guy and bring him in to the office. HR Director Kate Menzies claims “The benefits of pets in the workplace are widely recognised. They can offer a sense of comfort, relieve stress, increase physical activity and even improve productivity.”
Commenting on the overall results of their survey, Petplan feels the growing trend is moving in the right direction. Head of Marketing, Isabella von Mesterhazy feels “The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognise the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care. The early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development – especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”
More by Mary Simpson