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Employer insights

Pets are Family too – The Case for Pawternity Leave

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by Karen Thompson

about 1 month ago

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Last year we welcomed a new member of the family – George.

George is my grand-puppy. He doesn’t live with us, but he does visit often and comes for sleepovers. George is my daughter and her partner’s super cute Groodle – Golden Retriever x Poodle. He arrived when he was eight weeks old. He transitioned well from life with his birth mother and siblings on a farm to suburbia with his new ‘parents’, in part because of the flexibility ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ have with their employers.

For the first two weeks, they were able to take turns in working from home. My daughter then went to work in the mornings and worked from home in the afternoons. And after he’d had his vaccinations, she took George to work to meet her colleagues. After all, in this era of social media, George was already well known and was fast becoming an Instagram star.

Flexibility in the Workplace 

In our daily conversations with job seekers, the number one thing most are looking for in a new role is flexibility.

  • Whether it’s to study, care for children or ageing parents, engage in your favourite hobby (anyone up for a surf before hitting the computer keyboard?) or welcoming new pets into the family, employers that offer flexibility earn a lot of credence in the employer of choice rankings.
  • Some employers, particularly in Europe, are going beyond ‘flexibility’ and offering pawternity leave. A scaled-back version of parental leave, they offer their employees time off to bond with their new pet and help settle them into the family. After all, puppies, in particular, can mean a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. They also mean smiles and laughter as you watch your new pet learn about life. So many Instagramable moments!

Adopting a rescue dog or cat can also create challenges and some organisations offer longer leave to employees so they can spend time with the animals and help them adapt to their new environment. 

Three years ago, Scottish Brewery BrewDog (founded by two men and a dog) began offering their staff a week of paid leave when they brought a new pet into their home. They also allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. Their aim is to be “the best company to work for, ever”. Late last year BrewDog opened in Brisbane and are offering the pawternity leave here as well. Check out the interview on 6PR with BrewDog’s Operations Manager, Calvin McDonald.

Our modern lives tend to be more stressful than ever. And what is one of life’s best stress relievers? Owning a pet (okay, you may not think that if your puppy has just peed on your new carpet). In days gone by we had our work life and our home life. With the advent of technology, they often now merge into one. We call it…. Life. Can you help your employees get the most out of their life?

Whether it’s a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and whether it is paid or unpaid leave, if you are responsible for developing HR policies in your organisation, is pawternity leave something you would consider factoring in? 

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