Mars Petcare of the United Kingdom is one of the first companies in history to offer paid leave to employees who’ve just brought a new animal into their family. Those first few days in a foreign environment can be stressful for a dog or cat, and Mars’ HR Director Kate Menzies knows just how important that “settling-in” process is.
“[W]e want to enable and ease responsible pet ownership for our employees. Dogs and cats are at the heart of our business and our policy is designed to embrace a culture that is passionate about pets.”
Menzies adds that having pets in the workplace offers unmatched benefits as well: they relieve stress, improve productivity, and “break down barriers amongst employees and create a much more relaxed environment.”
She explains that the company is more flexible this way and makes incorporating a new animal into the family much easier. Not to mention, the social benefits for the dogs is one of a kind.
Owner of the IT company BitSol Solutions in Manchester, England, Greg Buchanan, offers three weeks’ leave for his employees. He says:
“I don’t have kids myself but I do have dogs and I understand how much they mean to people. I find being flexible with my staff when it comes to their animals makes them loyal and hardworking. Pets are like babies nowadays so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?”
This information has been gathered by pet insurance company Petplan, who learned that one in twenty U.K. employees receive these paw-ternity benefits in the workplace. The companies that take part offer anywhere from a few hours to weeks of paid leave, “depending on the pet’s needs and the company offering leave,” according to USA Today.
It’s no surprise or mystery the way pet ownership is changing in the countries that love to love their animals. Petplan’s Isabella von Mesterhazy knows all too well the positive effects these changes have—especially in the way we handle our furry family members’ transitions into a new life:
“The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognise the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care. 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.”
Says Buchanan, “we are quite sympathetic to pets in the U.K., we’re a pet-loving country.” He, too, took time off to help a new rescue puppy acclimate to his home. He explains to USA Today that leave is offered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the animals’ own needs.
Thus far, no one has requested time off for a new goldfish, he says, but only time will tell.
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