Puppy perks: should workers get three weeks of paid leave to bond with a new pet?

Name: Pawternity leave.

Age: At least five years old.

Appearance: None, for up to three weeks.

No appearance where? At work. It’s like paternity leave, but for dogs.

My dog doesn’t have a job. Or cats, or any animal. It’s for the carer, not the pet.

But why? To help the animal settle in, develop the bond between pet and owner, arrange injections and establish routines, that sort of thing.

When did this even become a subject for discussion? Last week, when Roger Wade, CEO of Boxpark, which runs shopping centres built out of shipping containers, set up a LinkedIn poll after an employee asked for paid leave to look after a puppy.

Cheeky. What did people think about that? Out of 34,000 responses, 61% were against the idea.

I should think so. It’ll never catch on. But it already has. Employers have offered different forms of pawternity leave for years.

Name one. Mars Petcare, makers of Whiskas and Pedigree, gives employees 10 hours of paid leave to look after a new pet, and after that they can bring the animal to work.

That doesn’t count – it’s a pet food company; they probably have cats on staff. Name another. The craft beer company BrewDog started offering employees a week’s “puppy parental leave” in 2017. Founder James Watt said the company wanted to “raise the bar” for staff benefits.

Is that the same BrewDog that was accused of bullying and fostering “a culture of fear” by former employees, and apologised back in June? Yeah, the exact same one – weird.

Well, at least they are dog-friendly … They are not alone. According to Petplan insurance, one in 20 new pet owners in the UK have been offered time off work to look after them. A Manchester IT company, BitSol Solutions, gives staff a week of paid leave. A growing number of US companies offer leave for new pets, sick pets and dead pets, too.

Are you kidding? In the US they don’t even have mandatory maternity leave. Maybe not, but extended perks are increasingly seen as a way to hang on to employees during the post-pandemic labour shortage.

What is the least troublesome animal I can adopt and still qualify for paid leave? I don’t know – a goldfish?

I was thinking of ants, because they are already here. It can’t hurt to send an application to BrewDog.

Do say: “A dog is not just for Christmas. I’ll also be taking the first two weeks of January.”

Don’t say: “I can’t come in today – my sourdough starter is unwell.”