Whether you rescue, purchase, or inherit a new pet, the first week of having them in your home is a crucial time for their development. It’s the ideal time to bond with, train, and socialize your new family member. But many people – especially single pet parents – have to miss out on this opportunity because they have to work.
Thankfully, missing out on that week is starting to become a thing of the past: enter ‘pawternity’ leave. A number of companies have introduced this new benefit that allows new pet parents to take time off to help their pets through this transitional time.
Mars Petcare was one of the first companies to offer employees pawternity leave, giving new owners 10 hours of paid leave plus the option to bring their pet into work with them. Minneapolis marketing company Nina Hale embraced the benefit this summer by giving employees the ability to work from home to help them welcome their new pet. And New York-based software company mParticle has jumped on board – they provide employees who have adopted rescues with two weeks of paid time off.
While welcoming a new furry friend into our lives is a celebratory (albeit, chaotic) time, another benefit designed to help pet owners through a gloomy time is also making the rounds: pet bereavement leave. Rather than having employees put on a brave face and soldier through a pet’s passing, some companies are providing grieving pet owners with paid leave to mourn. Having been through my own pet loss, I know coping with the loss of a pet can take a major emotional toll, and having time to properly deal with such tragedy is extremely necessary.
While many companies have given this benefit unofficially, pet bereavement leave is finally earning its place as an official benefit. Kipton Hotels and Restaurants provide grieving pet parents with three days of leave, Seattle-based pet insurance brand Trupanion offers employees one day leave, and VMware and Maxwell Health offer flexible days in the wake of a pet’s death.
When companies implement pro-pet policies, employees and employers win. A study conducted by Nationwide and HABRI confirmed that employers who practice pet-friendly policies are more likely to have employees who feel connected to their companies. Offering pet-friendly benefits champions employees and makes the company as a whole a better place to be. Think about it: if a pet owner is choosing between working at two companies, all other things being equal, they are more likely to choose to work at the company that would best support their furry one.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.