Paw-ternity Leave: A Different Breed of Holiday

Paw-ternity Leave: A Different Breed of Holiday

Whether you’re a dog or cat lover or prefer animals of the smaller variety, there seems to be good news on the horizon. The advent of Paw-ternity Leave could give you paid time off to care for your furry friends over and above your normal annual leave entitlement.

Employers are increasingly looking for ways to offer their workforces more flexibility and this seems to be the latest and fastest growing measure. According to a recent survey by Petplan, a pet insurance provider, almost 1 in 20 new pet owners in the UK have been offered time off to care for their new pets. The leave offered ranges from company to company, from a few hours to attend training lessons or vet appointments to several weeks of paid leave to settle in new pets.

It seems that paw-ternity leave is not the only pet-related benefit being offered to workers. Some companies have adopted a ‘pets welcome’ policy so that owners can bring their cats and dogs into work with them each day. Interestingly it seems that rather than acting as a disruption, having animals in the office in fact increases productivity and helps reduce levels of stress. Other benefits provided by companies include pet bereavement leave and payments for pet-sitting if workers are required to work outside normal working hours and/or travel on business.

Though animal-related companies are the most forward thinking in terms of the policies offered and have the highest uptake of these benefits, they are not the only sector to embrace the phenomenon. The latest company to establish a paw-ternity leave policy is the southern hemisphere bank ANZ, who has granted this type of leave to three employees so far.

Will the introduction of pet-friendly policies continue to rise? Previous surveys from the Blue Cross charity have shown that more than 4 in 10 pet owners have called in sick for pet-related reasons, with nearly half of those taking time off due to the death of a pet. As such, with 60% of the UK’s population being a pet owner, perhaps these new policies are the purrfectway (sorry, we couldn’t resist) of providing flexibility to workers as well as dealing with pet-related absences.

Samantha Prosser is a solicitor at leading senior executive employment law firm BDBF.