Pawternity Leave is a New Perk for Many Employees

You are about to embark on the cutest weeks of your life, but is your employer on board for this major life change?

By Jennifer Grant

He’s finally here – after all of these months of waiting, he’s here! This adorable little bundle of joy snuggles into your arms and life feels blissful and perfect for a moment. As sweet and precious as your fur baby is, this little canine is nothing like a human baby. Some would even say that puppies are more challenging than their human counterparts: there’s the crying, the endless barking, the chewing on the furniture, chewing on the shoes, chewing on the clothes, chewing on all things that matter to you, the walks in the rain and the snow. And the housetraining. THE HOUSETRAINING.

puppy chewing ball french bull dog

Image: Maxx Si

Puppies generally come home from the breeder at 8 weeks old.  This third month of life is the most important for bonding, brain development, and training.  It is the stage of life where puppies transition through the “fear-imprint” phase, which means that any traumas will be remembered for always. This is why its important to be ready to provide positive experiences for your new puppy and to make sure that you support him or her through the transition from being inside the security of its litter to your home.

puppy sleeping

Image: Sunday’s Photography

Some forward-thinking companies are now granting paid “pawternity leave” to their employees in an effort to help the new family become a cohesive unit. Mars Petscare, the makers of Pedigree and Whiskas (and more) offer employees ten paid hours to stay home with the puppy and then, you can bring your fur baby into the office until things are settled.

In addition, The Times reports that Mparticle offers two weeks paid leave for a puppy and for the adoption of a rescue. Laurel Peppino is the company recruiter and had this to say about the policy, “We offer maternity and paternity leave and a pet is just another member of the family,” she said. “We don’t discriminate just because they aren’t human.”

Image: Welshea Photography

In the end, these little beings are not mini-dogs, they are babies and as such, require a lot of your time and attention. Puppies will need help emotionally adjusting, learning obedience, and figuring how to live within its new pack. Experts say that the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are critical for establishing healthy bonding and socialization.

Image: Pyrozhenka

The Musti Group, based in Sweden, is the largest pet product supplier for the Nordic countries and is recognizing this critical phase with a corporate culture change:

“Pets always come first in everything we do, and that’s why pawternity leave is a natural step in developing our culture,” Musti Group CEO David Rönnberg said in a statement. “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.”

 Image: Patryk Kosmider
On the other end of the spectrum, another corporate trend is to provide paid time for bereavement. Losing your fur baby is devastating and it’s great that employers are recognizing time is needed to process that loss.  The time allotted ranges from a few days paid leave to flex time whereby you can leave early or arrive late as you grapple with your grief.
Losing a pet is an emotional blow that requires self-care. If your company doesn’t offer the time, then please consider taking personal days or using up accumulated sick time.
Image: Nina Buday
More and more companies are recognizing the economic benefits of a work-life balance in creating happy, productive employees. Thankfully, the corporate culture of working overtime and dedicating your life to the task, is fading.  It turns out that happy, balanced employees are more productive.
And there is no happier employee than the one that just got a new puppy or rescue! Does your workplace offer paid pawternity leave? Give them a shout out in the comment section.