Paid leave to look after your pet is now actually a thing.
As workplaces begin to embrace flexible conditions such as working from home and time-shifted hours, one company has gone a step further, giving employees the chance to take paid leave as they welcome a new fur-baby into their lives.
“We launched paw-ternity leave and our employees have taken to it like a dog to water," says Mike Frizell, founder of Pet Circle.
"For anyone who knows how stressful it can be to settle your little ball of fluff into your home, having paid leave to focus on your new pet during that time means you’re less distracted when you are at work,” he explains.
Mike also says that pet-friendly conditions shouldn't exist in the pet industry, but all companies could benefit by adopting the new perk.
“Pet lovers don’t just work for pet care industries – a recent study showed that nearly 60 per cent of people said they’d choose a dog-friendly employer over ones who are not,” he says.
If you'd like to approach your boss for some paw-ternity leave, we asked vet, Dr Fiona Patterson for her tips on how to approach the subject with your manager:
Show them the numbers: "Showcase the benefits to your boss of being a pet friendly employer," she says. "Pet owners make for desirable employees – they’re responsible, committed, empathetic people. A recent study showed that:
- 93 per cent of HR managers surveyed said they noted improvements in employee morale and reduced stress as a result of pet-friendly policies.
- 73 per cent of employees would be more likely to accept a job offer from a company with pet-related benefits like paw-ternity leave.
- 60 per cent of millennials are far more likely to continue employment at a company that implements pet-friendly policies.
Get ready to negotiate: "Think about what works for your employer: some companies offer an additional day of leave for paw-ternity, while others allow you to use your family carer’s leave entitlement," explains Fiona. "If you think your boss might be wary of the idea, starting with carer’s leave might be easier to get over the line. After all, more than half of Australians think of pets as family, odds are your boss does too!"
Communicate your goals: "You want to be clear about what you’ll be doing with your paw-ternity time: some people might think that paw-ternity is just extra cuddling time, but pet parents know it’s more work than play," she says.
"Whether it’s an hour during the week to get your pet to the vet for their vaccinations; or spending puppy’s first morning in the house at home so they know how to get to the right toilet spot, make sure your manager knows it’s a productive use of your time. Establishing a routine and boundaries for your pet now will pay dividends in the future," Fiona suggests.
Don’t stop with day one: "Pawternity leave is an amazing benefit, but the first six months are a hugely important time in your pet’s life to raise them to be happy, healthy and well adjusted," explains Fiona.
"We’re only just learning now about the risks to pet mental health, so having the flexibility to be the best pet parent is more important than ever. Use the pawternity leave conversation to test the waters around other pet-related benefits like working from home, longer lunch breaks for walks, or pet-friendly offices."