Is ‘pawternity leave’ a good idea?

The concept of ‘pawternity leave’ has gone viral. It originates in a post by Roger Wade, CEO & Founder at Boxpark, on the LinkedIn website. He kicked up a large response to his question, “One of my staff has asked for paternity leave because he has a new puppy. What do you think?”

There were 34,000+ votes and the result panned out at 61% rejecting the idea while 39% agreed with it. A pretty conclusive, No.

Pawternity leave poll by Roger Wade
Pawternity leave poll by Roger Wade on his LinkedIn webpage. Screenshot.
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But the fact that it is being discussed is a good thing. It indicates a trend towards a greater appreciation of animal welfare. I think this has been brought about because of global warming. Global warming has forced people to think about nature and when you do that you think about wildlife and animals and then domestic animals and their welfare.

One problem with pawternity is that if you gave people a week off to introduce their new puppy or kitten into their new home you would be providing a benefit to cat and dog owners that would not be provided to those who did not want to adopt a puppy or kitten. Of course the same inequality applies to employees having a baby. The concept of paternity is built around the modern belief, among a sizeable proportion of citizens of any country, that a domestic cat or dog is a family member on a par with a human family member.

In terms of their presence and their contribution to the family they are pretty well equal. Why, therefore, shouldn’t there be pawternity leave just as there is maternity and paternity leave?

Employers would rail against this because it’s another reason why employees are going to be absent. It must reduce productivity and productivity is a major topic of conversation in the UK.

The Times newspaper addressed the concept of pawternity leave. They highlight the comment of one respondent to Roger Wade’s question. The man said that the question was proof that the “world has officially gone mad”. A director of Horton and Sons, a gun and fishing rod specialist based in Birmingham made the point that a person who wants to adopt a dog should make sure that their work arrangements are suitable. He is arguing that employees who adopt dogs should take the responsibility of ensuring that the extra responsibility placed on their lives fits in with their work demands. It is not the responsibility of the employer to make concessions.

In the UK, companies are under no legal obligation to provide pet-related leave but apparently, according to a survey by PetPlan, 5% of pet owners have been offered leave to help settle in their new companion animal.

Another strong argument for pawternity leave is made by Georgie Murray, a puppy owner. She said that she can’t afford to raise a child in London and a pet is the only alternative. She is compromising and therefore why can’t her employer also compromise?

She said:

“I would have loved a couple of weeks off, or even just a few days to catch up on sleep to be able to do my job to the best of my abilities and settle my new family member in!”

And Will Hoyles, 39, a charity communications worker asked the question as to whether companies were willing and able to “be flexible enough to work alongside the rhythms and changes of a real, healthy life.”

Roger Wade is the founder of Boxpark which builds modern street food markets and shopping malls out of unwanted shipping containers. It’s a very novel concept which appears to be very successful.

In commenting about the question he posed about pawternity leave, he said:

“It wasn’t about how to grow your business, or how to protect our high streets [but about dog] pawternity leave! Crazy!”

People are more interested in companion animals than growing businesses ๐Ÿ™‚

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