HR Strange But True!
February 01, 2007

Some employers have begun to treat employees' pets as part of the family when it comes to paid leave.

The Times found several employers in the United Kingdom that are offering "peternity" leave for employees to take care of a sick pet, and one employer that offers bereavement leave for employees whose pets die.

The newspaper notes that employers are recognizing how important employees' pets are in their lives and using pet policies to attract and retain workers. Some employers have simply allowed employees to take their pets to work, while others have gone further.

One employer that has gone the extra step is the Courier Service in London, which allows employees 2 days of paid leave per year to take care of a sick pet or bring it to the vet.

"It is awarded if you need to go to the vet or your animal needs an operation, in the same way people might need time off for a baby or to look after a child," Denise Fresco, an HR manager at the company, tells the newspaper.

At Royal Mail, employees can request bereavement leave if their pet dies, the newspaper reports.

A survey by PetPlan, a company that offers pet insurance, found that 35 percent of the company's customers said they have taken time off from work because of their pets, the newspaper notes.

Still, at many employers, taking time off from work to take care of pets carries risks.

"When jobs are insecure, telling a boss that you want time off work to look after a pet would not go down well," Cary Cooper, a professor at the Lancaster University management school, tells the newspaper.

Source: The Times

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