Here at Closer Pets, we like to keep a keen eye on the latest pet news and updates. From important news like compulsory cat microchipping to more light-hearted pieces like a cat-owner relationship study (and quiz!), we’re busy spreading the word on our blog to help owners care for their little loved ones in the best way possible.
And, while pet-related work perks sound like they’d be at the softer end of the news scale, they’re becoming big business. One topic that’s been doing the rounds in the news and on social media recently is ‘pawternity’ leave – paid time off to take care of a new pet. Yep, it’s similar to maternity and paternity leave, but for fur babies, not human ones.
Is this the future of employee benefits or merely a furry fad? Let’s find out…
As anyone who’s adopted a new puppy or kitten (or, indeed an older animal) will attest, new owners have their hands full during the first few weeks. After all, those bright-eyed bundles of energy will need to learn about feeding, toilet training and socialisation, as well as having various vaccinations – plus, you’ll need to pet-proof your home. It’s therefore clear why pawternity leave could be invaluable in helping owners bond with their new companion, help them settle in and implement some routines.
Sounds great, right? But is anyone actually doing it?
A growing number of US companies are. For example, Mars Petcare (makers of Whiskas and Pedigree) gives employees 10 hours of paid leave to look after a new pet, and marketing company Nina Hale has also started offering ‘fur-ternity’ leave.
It’s appeared in Europe and the UK too – in fact, research from Petplan insurance found that one in 20 new pet owners in the UK have been offered paid leave from their job to look after their new furry additions.
Power to the employee
We know, we know – bosses will be reading this and raising their eyebrows, thinking: what’s the incentive to give out even more paid leave, on top of holidays and maternity/paternity leave of the human variety?
There are two forces at play here – the first being the surge in pet ownership during recent years, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA) estimated that a whopping 17 million households had pets in 2021. That’s 59% of households!
The second factor is the so-called ‘Great Resignation’. The pandemic led many people to reassess what’s important to them, and therefore look to work for companies that place value on their lives outside of work. This is a win-win for both parties – after all, a happy team is a more productive team.
Future or fad?
It’s true – workers hold the power, and more companies are adapting to hybrid working (cue the Zoom-call pet cameos!) and also offering pet insurance and allowing dogs in the office. Could pawternity leave be the next step?
The topic has certainly raised some debate – last autumn, Roger Wade, CEO of Boxpark, ran a LinkedIn poll after an employee asked for paid leave to look after their new puppy. Out of 34,000 responses, 61% were opposed to the idea.
But, although the naysayers have it, there are still almost two in five people who are in favour.
Perhaps the most compelling ‘for’ argument comes from Nordic pet food company, Musti, who offer employees three days off when they get a new pet. CEO David Rönnberg said:
“Adopting a pet is a significant decision and changes everyday life considerably. We want to support our employees during their first days with their new family member and ensure that they can enjoy those precious moments to the fullest.”
We’re with you every step of the way
It’s clear that ‘puppy perks ’aren’t just a case of throwing employees a bone, but it’s actually a tangible way for companies to retain talented staff and appeal to new recruits.
While it’s great to see companies investing in pet-based benefits, it’s worth remembering that pawternity might not catch on long-term. But we certainly think it’s one to watch!
Until then, our products are here to support you and your pets while you’re at work. Our automatic pet feeders can help you get into a set mealtime routine (and reduce anxiety when you’re out). Our pet drinking fountains are here to ensure your pet has plenty of fresh water throughout the day to encourage hydration. What’s more, our smart cat flaps and dog doors can give your feline friend or canine companion the independence to come and go during the day while you’re at work. View our full product range here.
We’d love to know if your company gave you pawternity leave to care for a new pet. Let us know on social media… #WeAreCloserPets