HR Strange But True

‘Paw-ternity’ Leave: The Next Trend in Employee Benefits?

Employers everywhere are looking for new ways to attract and retain talent. While companies like Facebook and Apple® are offering to freeze its female employees’ eggs as a way to recruit more diverse talent, other companies are jumping on the crazy train and offering even weirder workplace perks.

According to the Mirror, a new trend in the United Kingdom (U.K.) is to offer paid leave for workers who have recently acquired a new pet. The leave, aptly called “paw-ternity” leave, has been offered to at least one in 20 workers in the nation. The time frame for the leave could be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks and is designed to allow pet owners the chance to help their new fur-family settle into its new home.

Mars Petcare, a manufacturer of pet foods, is the first company in the U.K. to offer this new type of leave. Mars Petcare’s policy allows its employees to use up to 10 hours of paid leave when they purchase or adopt a new pet. The leave can be used all at once—for employees to bond with their new pets—or can be broken into chunks to be used for trips to the vet or for training. According to the company’s HR Director, Kate Menzies, “Dogs and cats are at the heart of our business and our policy is designed to embrace a culture that is passionate about pets.”

Unlike most Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies, once the pet has become acclimated, instead of leaving the pet home, Mars Petcare allows you to take your pet to work! “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,” added Menzies.

A U.K.-based IT company, BitSol Solutions, allows even more time (3 weeks!) to bond with new pets. Greg Buchanan, owner of BitSol Solutions, says “Pets are like babies nowadays so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?” Another U.K. company, Petplan also agrees with the time off, saying, “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.”

With more Millennials having fewer kids, benefit packages are going to need an overhaul. Offering paid leave for pets may be your best route!

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