As a follow up to my previous post on trends in leave policies, the latest development in the United Kingdom goes far beyond traditional maternity and paternity leave. “Paw-ternity leave” is a benefit given to almost one in every twenty new pet owners in the UK for the purpose of settling a new animal into the household. “The leave can be used to carry out training, attend vet appointments or simply spend more time with a new animal.”
Research by pet insurance provider Petplan found that some companies are giving employees a few hours off of work while others are allowing employees to take several weeks off. Greg Buchanan owns a British IT company and allows his employees three weeks’ paid leave when they get a new pet. He says he finds “being flexible with my staff when it comes to their animals makes them loyal and hardworking.”
Paw-ternity leave in the UK is paid and is granted on top of parental and holiday leave, both of which are standard in the UK. While pet leave is not (yet) a standard policy for all employees in the UK, the fact that even 5% of UK employees are allowed to take paid leave when they get a new pet highlights differences between the United States’ leave policies and those around the world.
There are no “standard” leave polices for American employees who have children. While the Family Medical Leave Act provides twelve weeks of job protection, that time off is unpaid (unless an employer provides otherwise). If you’re a new father seeking paternity leave, a same-sex couple, or a new adoptive parent, leave policies tend to be even less employee-friendly. The United States should take a cue from our friends across the pond and take a hard look at our nationwide leave policies. While paw-ternity leave may be a rather extreme example of differences in international leave policies, the United States has much room for improvement in paid maternity and paternity leave policies.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/69327412@N04/22871588875″>Japanese Akita-Inu Puppies</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>