From here to pet-ernity leave

Paw-ternity leave

Almost one in 20 new pet owners in the UK has been offered so-called “paw-ternity leave” by their employers, according to new research by a major UK pet insurer.

God bless Blighty and our commitment to not just our canines but all of God’s precious animals. Whether you have a cat with a bad cough or dog with chronic diarrhoea if you have a decent boss – you won’t necessarily lose out on pay. So if you have to rush to the vet long before rush hour, pray that the Big Cheese is a Dr Doolittle at heart.

Pet-ernity or paw-ternity leave is not something that the majority of pet owners expect to be entitled to, according to research published last year by the animal welfare charity Blue Cross. A survey of 2,000 pet owners found that more than four in 10 have “pulled a sickie” from work because of their pet.

However we think we should celebrate the growing list of companies where there isn’t just standard parental leave for new mums and dads. New animal owners are  granted the time off in addition to their standard holiday allowance.

Some allow employees 10 hours paid leave when they buy a new pet. The leave can be used to carry out training, attend vet appointments or simply spend more time with a new animal.

We learnt about one company in Manchester that gives staff three weeks paid leave if they get a new “four-legged friend”. Greg Buchanan, MD of  the IT company BitSol Solutions knows that “The first few weeks of a dog moving to a new home is a really important time, especially when they are puppies.” And the experts agree stating unequivocally that 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. So it makes sense to support staff staying home with them.

Buchanan goes on further to say “I find being flexible with my staff when it comes to their animals makes them loyal and hardworking.”

And pet-ernity work benefits don’t necessarily end there either. There is also a growing trend for animals to be allowed in the work place – from dog food manufacturers to IT businesses. And there are benefits to business too: pets have been proven to “offer a sense of comfort, relieve stress, increase physical activity and even improve productivity.” Kate Menzies, HR director of Mars Petcare.

Blue Cross can also confirm that having well behaved pets in the workplace leads to employees taking less days off sick. They surveyed hundreds of GPs, medical consultants and therapists who confirmed what pet owners have always known – that pets are the ultimate stress buster.

88% of healthcare professionals said that regular dog walking breaks could increase motivation and therefore productivity at work. And 70% say having pets at work will lead to less sick days. Further more, 89% of healthcare professionals agree that stroking a pet can lower blood pressure and therefore reduce stress.

Sounds to us like it’s time to book a meeting with HR and find out what your company’s pet-ernity policy is looking like. Find out if you have the dog’s of a job or if your boss is the cat’s whiskers.