HR Strange But True!
February 17, 2009

Virgin Mobile, based in Melbourne, Australia, is giving employees the option of taking 5 days of unpaid pet-ernity leave in order to care for newborn pups and kittens, bond with them, and help them adjust to their new homes.

The stipulations for pet-ernity leave are that the employee must have been with Virgin Mobile for at least 2 years, and the puppy or kitten must be less than 10 weeks old. Those taking the leave must sign a “statutory declaration” that they indeed have the new pet.

Virgin Mobile Human Resources Director Angela Foskett acknowledges that the leave policy recognizes that not all of the company's employees have children and that many of their workers are extremely attached to their pets. Foskett says she will be taking a pet-ernity leave herself when she adds two new puppies to her household later this year.

Foskett also readily admits that this leave policy is discriminatory--it only applies to mammals. Crafty employees had tried to take leave for rats, fish, and iguanas. Foskett says that while several call center employees keep large snakes as pets, she believes the leave is unnecessary for rodents and reptiles because “they are not as high need or high maintenance as cats and dogs.”


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