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Paw-ternity Leave: Will This UK Pet Parent Trend Make Its Way To The States?

By Aly Semigran    May 10, 2016 / (4) comments

When the New York Post ran an article stating that "Pet Owners Deserve Family Leave, Too" it prompted a flurry of responses, especially from pet parents who wondered why they haven't yet been offered time off to take care of their fur babies.    


As it turns out, paw-ternity leave, like maternity leave, gives employees paid time off to take care of their newest family member. But, for now, it appears that this trend is only happening for pet parents in the UK. This news doesn't surprise Cynthia Trumpey, the senior vice president of pet acquisition at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, who noticed that our friends across the pond tend to start these trends.    


"The [paw-ternity] movement started in the UK...and now a few companies in the US are picking up on the idea," Trumpey says. "It's the way that it happened with pet insurance as well. If you look at pet insurance in the UK, it’s much more popular there than it is in the U.S."    


Natasha Ashton the co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan, thinks that the demand for paw-ternity leave, like insurance, will become greater here in the US. "I wouldn’t be surprised to see U.S. companies offer time off to employees who bring home a new pet," she tells petMD. 


Ashton notes that a lot of companies—in addition to pet insurance (which is the third most requested and fastest growing voluntary employee benefit)—are now offering pet bereavement time. 


"I think what this all tells us is that more companies are recognizing that pets are part of the family and they’re extending benefits to employees that include even the furriest family members," Ashton points out. "Time off for a new pet would be a natural next step." 


While some companies do allow their employees to bring pets to work, for some that is simply not an option. Ashton also points out that those first critical days and weeks of having a new pet in the household requires time and attention. 


"Most of that first week at home with a new pet is dedicated to house training, socializing, and veterinary check-ups," Ashton notes. "It’s also a great time for the family and pet to bond with each other as well as for the new pet to meet any pets who are already in the home. And as anyone who’s ever brought home a young puppy can attest, those early weeks are also filled with some sleepless nights."


With an estimated 65% of households in the US that own pets, paw-ternity leave could very well be something we adopt from the UK and take in as our own. 


Would you ask your employer for paw-ternity leave? Would it have helped you when you had a new pet? Tell us in the comments section below. 


Image via Shutterstock 

Comments  4

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  • Paws-itively ridiculous..
    05/20/2016 11:58am

    What?? Ridiculous concept; use vacation time if you need to take care of personal business..

  • 05/22/2016 01:38am

    No not ridiculous at all, we should not have to take our vacation time & we should have two weeks of paw-ternity leave! Pets are family members, just like kids are!@

  • Not so sure about that...
    05/20/2016 12:18pm

    I'm iffy on this. On one hand, I understand the need to bond with a new pet. I've generally taken off a few days of work when I've brought a new dog home. But at the same time, that's what vacation time is for. It may be a different story for folks who don't GET vacation time and would have to take it off without pay, but ultimately a dog or cat is a choice (of course, one could argue, so are children).

    On the flip side, you know what I WOULD like to see? Bereavement time. Even just one day to be able to say goodbye, etc. I mean, I could take a day of bereavement leave for an aunt or uncle who I have basically nothing to do with but because they're a relative, I get that bereavement time. But I couldn't get a day of bereavement leave for a beloved dog, who is a member of my family?

  • I could see this for some
    05/20/2016 01:36pm

    D I don't think it would be equal to maternity leave length and time. However depend on the size of the company (larger companies giving more time), I believe that one to two weeks would be a great benefit. Gives one time to bond, help with separation anxiety training, house trained and crate train, vet visits, etc. However, there should be a balance of amount of time one could do this suggest as only three times in 10 years. I don't want to see this benefit being abused like some mothers having a baby every year or so, which puts a burden on the company. The limit would also stop those that get puppies then get the time off then later get rid of that dog and go back to the shelter to get more time off. This program would have to encourage responsible pet ownership. Question would be how far does this apply to e.g. Cats, lizards, rabbits, snake etc. I definitely like the ideas of pet bereavement. I found it hard the day after putting down my first dog, a Dobie at 12 years, then going to work as a police officer and keeping my mind on the job.