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More firms offering 'pawternity' benefits

By: Gene Marks The Washington Post
January 16, 2018 Updated: January 16, 2018 at 4:20 am
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Think having a baby is rough? Try bringing home a puppy.

All babies need is a couple of diaper changes, a few feedings and a burping session once in a while. But puppies? They need way more attention, particularly if you consider all the playing, outdoor walks in the rain, house training, gnawing on furniture, chewing of shoes, non-stop barking and ... did I mention house training?

You know what I'm talking about, puppy owners. It's exhausting.

But don't worry. It's 2018. The labor market is tight, good employees are in high demand, and paid time off, particularly for new parents, is a hot benefit many firms offer.

Now some of these firms are taking this concept one step further and offering the ultimate solution to the ultimate first-world problem: paid time off for new pet owners. It's called "pawternity," and no, I am not joking.

"We offer maternity and paternity leave, and a pet is another member of the family," the head of talent acquisition at a data services firm told The Wall Street Journal last month. "We don't discriminate just because they aren't human."

This is not the only firm that provides pet-related benefits. It's becoming a trend. An article in Quartz last week reported on its growing popularity, with some companies offering up to a week of paid time off for new pet owners.

More and more of these firms - particularly in urban areas that attract a young workforce - also allow pets to be brought to be work as well as other perks, such as pet insurance, time-off for veterinary appointments, pet adoption consulting and even pet bereavement leave.

"We look at it just as if you had a sick kid," one business owner said in the Journal piece.

So don't sniff at these benefits, OK? Animal advocates say the better the transition for a puppy (the Kennel Club says its first 16 weeks "go a long way" to ensure a puppy's successful acclimation and socialization), the happier its owners. Happy pet owners make happy (and more productive) employees, right?

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