Should You Offer “Paw-ternity” Leave to Employees?
As pets become an increasingly important part of the family, they have also reshaped the workplace. In addition to initiating pet-friendly offices and hosting Take Your Dog to Work Day events, some companies are now granting “paw-ternity” leaves to their employees. This new benefit (also sometimes referred to as “fur-ternity” leave) allows employees to work from home in order to welcome a new pet. A New York Times article recently covered this phenomenon by profiling a pet owner whose company allowed him to take paw-ternity leave for a week in order to care for his new goldendoodle.
Paw-ternity leave represents a shift in workplace culture. Whereas tech companies and start-ups have boasted features designed to keep employees in the office such as free food, laundry services, hair salons and gyms, this new policy shows a greater respect for employees’ lives outside of the workplace. It also isn’t a trend limited to the pet industry—the dog owner profiled in the Times article is employed by a marketing company.
This new policy could also be a way to recruit employees. Millennials represent the largest group of pet owners, so this benefit is particularly attractive to them. They also place a strong emphasis on work-life balance, and paw-ternity leave would be an optimal way to achieve a greater equilibrium between personal and professional obligations.
There are also potential benefits for pet business owners if they implemented a paw-ternity leave policy. By offering this new benefit, companies and stores could entice new recruits and demonstrate that they are employers that care about their workers. However, it may be a more feasible option for bigger businesses than small, independent retailers. Store employees cannot do their jobs from home and retailers with a limited number of workers may not be able to spare someone for a week.
However, if a business can swing it, paw-ternity leave could be a useful way to foster workplace morale. By offering this compassionate policy, businesses can help pet parents deal with the stressful challenge of transitioning an animal into a new home and gain the trust, respect and loyalty of their workers.