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A New Kind of Benefit for Pet Parents?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

You may have seen the news around the renewed debate over whether companies should offer leave for new pet owners, often referred to as “Pawternity”. But what exactly is this?

As many may have surmised, it’s just like maternity or paternity leave but for a new pet, instead of a new baby.

Pet adoption rose with people working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic; a reported 3.2 million pets were bought during lockdown. In the UK, it’s estimated that approximately 12 million (44%) households have pets and that there are around 51 million pets in total.

The benefits of having a pet have been long touted. Add to this the fact that the traditional family unit has changed in many ways and the term “family” means different things to different people.

Lots of people are living in different parts of the country to where they grew up and where their relatives may still live; and the traditional “mum, dad, kids” setup isn’t for everyone. It is not therefore surprising that for many people, their pets are their family.

How does this impact business?

With people returning to the office following the various lockdowns and “work from home” dictates, it is well accepted that many are looking for roles that offer a better work/life balance.

In response, organisations have introduced Homeworking and Hybrid Working Policies, and/or revisited their Flexible Working Policies. But with many organisations still reporting retention and/or recruitment difficulties, other offerings are being considered. Pawternity being one.

Pawternity is not a new concept as some organisations introduced Pawternity schemes long before anyone had heard of Covid; this was largely in a bid to support their workforce and aid staff wellbeing.

The scheme is designed to allow an employee one or two weeks’ paid leave when adopting a new pet. This is so they may have time to bond with the pet and acclimatise them to their new home. Schemes may also allow the employee to bring their pet into the office.

Although there is no set precedent for these schemes and how they should operate, certain trends are emerging. For example, it is often stated that Pawternity will be available on one occasion and apply only to our canine friends. However, the options are limitless and can be designed so they best suit the business.

If you would be interested in finding out more about Pawternity schemes or simply reviewing your current “family friendly” policies, please contact our employment team.

Hazel Taylor


Hazel Taylor


Hazel is often the first point of contact for clients of the employment team. She is a paralegal in our employment team having worked previously in both the Commercial Litigation and Company & Commercial teams as a legal secretary.