At Overturf McGath & Hull, we know that people love their pets. Although many of your employees may regard them as members of the family, federal law does not extend FMLA protections and similar benefits to pets. This can cause a conundrum for employees caring for a sick pet or welcoming a new one into their homes. They do not want to abandon an animal that requires care, but they also do not want to jeopardize their jobs by taking too much time off from work. 

Some employers have attempted to resolve this issue by offering a special benefit to pet-owning employees. According to Forbes, it sometimes goes by the name “pawternity leave.” It allows an employee to take time off following a new pet adoption or to care for an ailing animal. Employees who do not have PTO available can take unpaid leave in either circumstance knowing that their position will still be waiting for them when they get back. 

There are challenges involved in implementing a leave policy for pet owners. Before putting it into practice, you should take care to craft the policy carefully. When crafting your policy, you should ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Under what circumstances will you provide the benefit? 
  • How much time will you allow employees to take at a time? 
  • What types of pets will the policy include? 
  • What equivalent benefit will you offer to employees who do not own pets? 

Despite the potential challenges, offering “pawternity leave” to employees also offers potential benefits to your company. The financial repercussions for your business are minimal. Your employees who own pets are likely to appreciate your concern for their commitments outside of work. Therefore, providing a benefit such as this may help your retention efforts. More information on employment law is available on our website.