Saturday, February 14, 2009

“Peternity” Leave

Wouldn't this be nice!?

This week is the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, when type-A dog owners show off their pampered pooches to a panel of judges.

Some pet owners can actually get company-blessed time off for pet-related matters, in what are dubbed “peternity” leaves, according to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network blog.
Virgin Mobile in Australia recently announced that it now offers peternity leaves for employees with new puppies or kittens under 10 weeks old. Such employees, who must have worked for the company for more than two years, can get five unpaid days off. (Owners of other animals, such as birds, fish or hamsters, can’t take advantage of the policy, alas.) Several U.K. and Canadian companies, including the Bank of Scotland, also offer time off to care for new or sick pets or for pet bereavement.

The trend doesn’t seem to have caught on yet among U.S. businesses, although some companies, such as Google, do allow workers to bring pets to work. (From Google’s Dog Policy, printed in its code of conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”) Most pet owners, however, have to take personal days or lunch breaks to care for a new pet or to deal with a sick or dying animal. (In this week’s episode of “The Office,” there was a subplot about taking time off for cat-care.) And, of course, being able to take any company-sanctioned leave to care for an animal is a luxury in this tough job market.

Several years ago, when my husband and I adopted our shelter dog, Bosco, as an eight-month old, we sure could have used some more time off. Our dog was skittish, shy and unresponsive to commands. We squeezed in sessions with our trainer during lunch breaks, but could have used more time off for naps, since we were up half the night from Bosco’s barks and whimpers.
Readers, have you had to take time off from work to care for a pet? How pet-friendly is your employer?


What are your thoughts?

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