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Should there be workplace leave to care for pets?

With “Paw-ternity” growing in popularity around the world, HRM profiles this and other unconventional reasons for compassionate leave.

What happens when your best furry friend falls sick and you are their only carer? An Italian woman was recently granted two days of leave to look after her sick dog – although it didn’t come easily.

The woman, who lives by herself but for her ageing English settler, needed to transport the animal to and from the veterinary clinic for surgery, and then care for her dog post-procedure. Her employer initially approved the request, but the time was marked as holiday, rather than compassionate leave. The woman successfully contested the type of leave with the help of an animal advocacy group, arguing that people who don’t take proper care of their pets run the risk of facing animal cruelty charges.

The notion of pet leave to care for sick or dying pets has also extended to “paw-ternity leave” – taking a few days to settle an animal into their new home. Some employers in the UK, such as Scottish beer company Brewdog and tech company BitSol Solutions have adopted the idea. The time off to care for new pets can range from a few hours to a few days.

Greg Buchanan, CEO of BitSol, says the leave is managed on a case-by-case basis. One employee was awarded leave to adjust to a new dog after a family bereavement. However taking care of a goldfish, he said, is not on the cards. Similarly, Brewdog extends the courtesy of paw-ternity leave to those doing a good deed and adopting a rescue dog.

The UK has a similar number of pets per household as Australia . According to the Australian Veterinary Association, 63 per cent of Australian households have pets and Canstar reports Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with more furry friends present in homes than children. The paw-ternity trend hasn’t caught on here yet, but given the number of pet lovers in our midst, could paw-ternity leave become a reality in Australia?

“Meternity” leave

Not everyone wants or can have children, so should those without kids be denied American author Meghann Foyle doesn’t think so. In the novel Meternity, Foyle questions why those who don’t opt for procreation shouldn’t have the same access to paid maternity leave, and puts forward the notion of a sabbatical for singles. Foyle may want to consider moving to France, where employees can take a sabbatical after three years of service for six to 11 months. The leave is, unfortunately, unpaid.

Marriage leave

While most save up their annual leave in preparation for the big day, some countries reward the (hopefully) once in a lifetime occasion with some time off. Employees in Greece are allowed five days, while Argentinians are granted 10, and in the Czech Republic, even the immediate family of the married couple get a break. Japan offer a similar concept in “congratulation” leave, for newlyweds and new parents.

Blood leave

The act of giving blood is so highly regarded in some countries that employees are given time off to donate In Russia, workers who give blood or need a blood test can take a day’s leave, and possibly also the subsequent day. Bulgarians are also entitled to two days, while Argentinians and Brazilians are given one.

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Respect that Italian lady who takes leave for her pretty pets. I think not only she, every pet owner should confirm the responsibility with their pets, yes; I call it responsibility. In this way, taking leave is mandatory if need. BTW thanks a bunch for sharing this beautiful story with us. We pet lovers appreciate it. Thanks. 🙂

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