An increasing number of employers are introducing special benefits to attract and retain staff. Pet-friendly work environments have been commonplace at start-ups and tech companies, and now other companies are looking at pet-based leave.
Paw-turnity (or fur-turnity) leave on the rise
Companies have encouraged employees to get involved with their communities or charities in a number of different ways. According to a recent story in the New York Times, some companies are offering paid leave to employees who adopt a rescue dog. Other companies are offering flexible work hours and work-from-home options for those with new cats or dogs. There have even been instances where employees take bereavement leave if a pet dies, or sick days if the pet is sick.
Pet owners often look at this as a logical concession. Pets have taken increasing central role in their human’s lives, manifested in full access to the furniture and bed, gourmet meals and organized play dates. Perhaps particularly for those employees without kids, allowing these concessions can reduce the resentment when co-workers call in sick because of a child needs to stay home, or when a team member leaves early to drive a child to soccer practice.
Companies need to adopt a policy
While this is all great, the New York Law Journal recommends that companies need to be smart as well as accommodating. HR or supervisors should speak with their employment law attorney about this issue and address the following questions:
- Is leave paid or unpaid?
- What is the length of these leaves?
- What leave events (new adoption, sickness or death) are acceptable for accomodation?
- What pets are covered? Cats and dogs are typical, but what about less common pets like snakes or birds?
Employment law attorneys can helpAs with any potential legal issue related to business and employees, an attorney can be a tremendous asset to make sure these new rules are consistent with current rules and help avoid potential legal issues down the line.