Pawternity Leave

Pawternity Leave

Did you see the article in USA Today about the brewery that gives 1 week paid Puppy Parental leave, aka “Pawternity” leave, when an employee brings home a puppy or a new rescue? Aptly named, BrewDog, is opening a new brewery in Ohio later this year and will be the first company in the US to offer this kind of benefit. The company has its beginnings in Scotland, and pawternity leave is not all that uncommon in the UK. Paid time off can be anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months, depending on the needs of the pet and, of course, the company you work for.

Time off work is necessary with a new Puppy

I was always glad to have had time off many years ago when I brought home two beagle puppies. No, I didn’t have pawternity leave, but I was working for a temporary agency at the time and simply didn’t accept any job assignments for about two weeks so that I could be home with the pups. It was a LOT of work… especially having two dogs. When one did something, the other had to do it too… So when one peed on the floor, the other followed suit. I can’t tell you how many times I caught the little buggers in the act and went running to the front door with a pup in each hand, and pee running down my legs! During that time off with my pups, I was able to get them comfortable in their new surroundings, teach them what was acceptable in the home and what was not, and, most importantly, potty train them to go outside. Those two weeks with my new puppies were invaluable.

We don’t have pawternity leave at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, but our leaders are, obviously, very sympathetic to the needs of our pet’s and will work with our schedules to allow us time to care for them. Southside Resort manager, Glenda, has had to take time off work to care for newborn puppies at her home. She says, “The first 72 hours are vital for the survival of a litter… I stay home with them a very minimum of 3 days.” But it’s certainly not over then. Glenda continues, “After 6 weeks of age, weaning begins, and the work of the ‘human’ mom really kicks into gear.” It’s after this time that most pups are introduced to their forever home…. Then the sleepless nights begin and time-off of work becomes even more important.

Do you need to take time off for a new Rescue?

Sometimes bringing home a rescue demands even more of your time than bringing home a puppy. Rescue dogs can come from an array of situations and will be nervous when they enter a new environment. More than likely your adoptee has undergone a lot of stress recently and is now facing even another upheaval upon being adopted, albeit a good one, and she doesn’t know what to expect. The Humane Society of the United States says that it can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. You need time to not only get acquainted but to establish routines and boundaries. It’s not a quick process.

Good Business Sense

Even though pawternity is not a “thing” here in the US (yet), many companies have flexible work schedules which would allow people to take the additional personal time to care for a pet when needed. It’s not specifically a provision for pet care, but still provides a solution when you need to be at home. Some companies have what they call “Paid personal time” which is in addition to paid vacation. A pet in need would most certainly be a “personal” matter requiring time off. There are an estimated 65% of homes in the US that own pets… I wouldn’t be too surprised to see more employers offer Puppy Parental Leave in the near future.

Those companies who embrace pawternity leave consider it just good business sense, aimed at improving the work/life balance of their staff. A happy employee is a good employee… and an even more productive employee. Additionally, a competitive labor market forces companies to think outside the box in order to attract and retain good employees.

Another growing trend, even in the US, is paid pet bereavement leave when your 4-legged friend passes away. Mars, Inc., popular candy and food maker, and Kimpton Hotel and restaurants, offer 1 – 3 paid days off to allow you time to mourn. Losing a pet is devastating. It is difficult to work when you are grieving. Offering an employee time off during this emotional time is very compassionate.

Pets are such an important part of our family. We need to be there for them. Employers are taking notice.

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