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A New Pet Leave…..?

4th May 2017

By Sofia Syed, Senior Associate, Employment. 

With an increasing number of employees now proudly sporting a new puppy over a baby - we may see the birth of a new type of pet leave, affectionately known as ‘pawternity leave’.

Petplan’s Head of Marketing, Isabella von Mesterhazy insisted that providing pet leave would be a step in the right direction as apparently “the early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development – especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”

If that is the case, then arguably as employers provide leave when a new baby comes into a family, the same time should be afforded to a new goldendoodle puppy, when coming into a new family. As reported by the BBC earlier this week Gia, from Ohio, was delighted when her employer, Scottish brewer Brewdog, announced one week's paid leave for all workers who adopt a puppy or rescue dog.

Currently under UK employment law, employees have the legal right to a number of different types of leave or time-off. These are largely ‘family-friendly’, based on the birth/adoption of a child (maternity, paternity or shared parental leave) and to spend time with a child (up to 18 years – unpaid parental leave) or to deal with emergencies, though this extends to other dependents too (time off for dependants).

The ‘pawternity leave’ offering is currently a company perk being offered by some employers. The offering may range from a few hours off to settle in a new household animal to others who offer as much as several weeks paid time off.

If the purpose of granting employees leave is to increase productivity in the long run and to nurture a positive work environment with motivated and loyal staff, then perhaps it’s time for employers to take the dog by the lead and introduce new canine and feline - friendly rights for their pet loving staff. Though I suppose there may be issues of where to draw the line, especially if employees start requesting different periods of time off for their more unusual bovine, ovine or even porcine pets. Most recently we had a client whose employee was requesting equine-friendly leave!

Although the sentiment may take off in private companies as a perk, my bet is that it’s a long way from becoming a legal right; I believe the Government has a few more pressing issues to deal with first…

The contents of this update are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this update. © Mundays LLP 2017.

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