If you’re an animal lover like me and have a pet/pets, then you’ll know the importance of spending time with your little fluff ball – not to mention how hanging out with your pets is way more satisfying than the company of humans!
Our dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, chipmunk’s, hamsters, birds etc get our daily love, affection, fuss, food and not to mention the all important play time – and being apart from them is a pretty rubbish feeling!
Give me an afternoon with my cats lounged all over me, or a walk in the park with my boy any day, compared to being stuck in the office while I listen to the mundane chats about reality TV and what everyone’s having for dinner – no offence guys!
For anyone who’s ever had a new pet, you’ll know how much time you have to dedicate to him/her, ensuring they settle into their new home while hoping to create a strong bond with them.
So it’s an awful feeling when we have to leave them for our daily 9-5 commute – not to mention the hours spent away from them while travelling to and from.
If like me you’ve had a bunch of mates who’ve become new parents, you’ve witnessed them enjoy nine months of maternity leave, preparing to welcome their new human into the home.
Odd, because when I adopted Laursen, Mitzy, Brian, Chester and Cassie, I don’t recall getting a load of time off to look after my new babies!
Well say hello to ‘pet-ernity leave’ – essentially, it allows employees a little paid leave in order to spend time with the newest member of the family – it’s a great idea and one which is apparently on the rise.
Mars are one of the few companies who offer ‘pet-ernity leave’ and Gosia Faras – Corporate Affairs Director at Mars Petcare UK – told UNILAD:
As you’ve probably guessed, lots of our Associates (which is what we call our employees) are pet lovers and it’s important we have pet friendly policies to make it as easy as possible for them to be responsible pet owners.
We introduced our Pet-ernity scheme in 2012, which offers Associates 10 hours paid leave when the get a new dog or cat.
Pets are part of the family so having the time to bond with and settle them in is essential – just as you would for a new baby.
This isn’t our only pet friendly policy, for the last ten years we’ve had pet friendly offices. We do all this because we know that owning a pet is good for you!
Bringing your dog to work helps to reduce stress, promote a healthier lifestyle and increase collaboration and morale. This also has a big role to play in keeping Associates engaged and attracting new ones.
For millennials, this is especially true – 73 per cent believe that allowing pets at work greatly benefits Associates and 60 per cent stated that they are more likely to stay at a company with pet-friendly policies.
Ultimately, happy pets mean happy Associates – so we’re not barking mad!
It’s believed the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life go a long way in helping to produce a well-balanced and sociable pooch.
Taking time off work is not only a sensible idea for the owner, it can be extremely beneficial to the puppy for a number of reasons – it creates the opportunity for your new pooch to be trained and socialised.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home recommend a period of settling in for a rescue animal, ensuring it gets into its new routine – however, they do stress dogs can end up thinking constant human company is normal, therefore advise new owners to ensure they get some away-time.
If you love dogs, check out the clip below:
When I got my puppy, (a white German Shepherd named Laursen, after the former Aston Villa defender), I was exhausted and sleep-deprived - these feelings seem to mirror those of my friends who've recently become parents.
Despite the sleepless nights and constant toilet training, I wouldn't have changed a thing and now, Laursen is a well behaved doggy - in the park he's a dream...apart from those erratic moments where he doesn't want to get back into the car!
I was fortunate to be at home with him during his time of settling in!
The experience I had with him isn't too dissimilar to others who've also had new puppies and/or kittens - therefore, think before you commit to an animal - it's not all fun and games while they're cute, fluffy and little!
I'm focusing on cats and dogs as these are the most common pets for people across the UK - and I'm able to draw from my experiences with both.
Many feel cats don't need the same level as attention compared to dogs, they think they're independent creatures who do what they want.
Although this may be true to a very slight extent, new research suggests cats need humans more than we thought - and no it's not just to get fed and stroked, report The Guardian.
Rescue cats in particular need a lot of reasurance when in their new homes and need time and space to bond.
When thinking about how much time and effort is required from a person when a new pet arrives, it's pretty unfair how most of us don't seem to get a sniff of 'pet-ernity leave'.
Even more worrying is the statistic which shows four in 10 animal owners have pulled a sickie because of their pet.
According to Bam:
A study of 2,000 pet owners shows they take an average of five days out of the office in a year due to a problem with their pet, but 26 per cent didn’t feel they could be honest with their employer the real reason for needing time off.
While 65 per cent of pet owners have taken time away from their desks to be able to attend a vet appointment with their four legged friend.
Anyone who's lost a pet will understand the heartbreak and devestation which follows - which is another reason why I feel we should be allowed time off for such circumstances.
Sadly, almost half of pet owners have felt forced to take time off after the loss of a beloved pet, as they couldn’t face a normal day’s work because they were so heartbroken.
In fact, they have taken a further three days off in a year due to the death or loss of a well-loved family pet.
Tracie McGrory, Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service Manager, added:
Pets are part of the family and losing one can be devastating. Taking compassionate leave for family is obviously very understandable, but when it comes to our pets, sadly many people don’t realise the deep emotion losing one can bring about.
Compassionate leave may sound a bit over the top to some, but it merely portrays how strongly people feel towards their animals - I know when I've lost pets in the past, I've not wanted to leave the house for days - even when I was younger, I didn't go into school because I was so upset.
Animals are so much more than just pets, they're members of the family so it's great to see a number of forward-thinking companies adopting initiatives such as pet-ernity leave.
In America, maternity leave isn't required by law, so it's crazy to think some companies are offering pet-leave - Bravo!
However with our ever changing work lives - the inclusion of flexitime, or working from home - is pet-ernity leave something companies can strive towards including for their employees?
Let's hope so!