A woman in Italy recently asked her employer for paid sick leave in order to care for her dog. She told her boss her dog was “family” and the woman’s request was granted.
The woman is an employee at Sapienza University in Rome and she lives alone with her dogs. She needed to take time off work in order to bring one of her dogs to the veterinarian for surgery. When “Anna” originally approached her employer and requested time off, she said the leave was documented as holiday pay. She became angry and decided to contact an animal advocacy group in order to plead her case.
Lega Anti Vivisezione helped “Anna” approach the University who later granted the woman two days of paid sick leave in order to care for her dog, an aging twelve-year-old English Setter. The group argued that “Anna” and other animal owners could face legal action if not allowed time off to care for their pets. They could be charged with mistreatment of an animal, a crime under Italian law.
“Anna’s” situation is groundbreaking because it sets a precedent as to how future cases might, or should be handled. Employees who present the necessary paperwork to an employer now have something to fall back on. The proper paperwork must be handled by a veterinarian stating the reason the employee should be given leave to care for his or her animal. Likewise, it is up to the employer to grant the leave to the employee, there is no guarantee that one will receive paid time off.
Companies around the world, however, are starting to recognize that dogs, just like children, are members of the family. The Scottish Brewery, Brewdog, for example, has incorporated one week of sick leave pay into its company policy. If an employee adopts a puppy, they are automatically granted that time to get to know their puppy, house train it, etc.
Mars Petcare— One of the first companies to offer “pawternity leave,” Mars offers employees 10 hours of paid leave when they bring home a new pet. After that, employees are allowed that pet into the office with them.
BitSol Solutions—BitSol Solutions offers employees a full week of paid leave if they bring home a new pet because according to company owner Greg Buchanan, “pets are like babies.”
BrewDog— BrewDog offers employees a week of paid leave when they bring home a new pet because they love dogs—that and they want to be the cool place, where people love coming to work.
Some companies are even offering bereavement leave as well for employees who have recently lost a pet. Companies are coming on board because they know and understand how devastating it is when the loss of a pet occurs.
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants—Kimpton offers three days of leave to its’ employees.
Mars, Inc.— Mars offers one day of bereavement leave and flexible hours to employees dealing with the loss of a pet.
VMware/Maxwell Health— Both offer employees flexible days to their employees
Trupanion- This Seattle based pet insurance company offers employees one day of bereavement leave.
What are your thoughts on “pawternity leave” or pet bereavement leave within the workplace? The Today Show conducted a survey. 58% of all who took the survey said they are for some type of leave to care for animals. 48% said no, they didn’t feel as though taking time off for a pet was necessary. It makes you wonder if the 48% that said no, actually own a cat, a dog, or another animal.
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