Companies offer perks like ‘paw-ternity leave’ to better employee work-life balance

Local News

We all know about maternity leave and paternity leave, but there is a new kind of paid time off that’s growing in popularity at companies, and it’s all about devoting time to a different member of the family.

“I was able to bond with him, get to know his personality,” mParticle employee Meredith Heller said. “It was very critical in building my relationship with my dog. It is. P-A-W-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y.”

You heard that right — paid time off to care not for a newborn but for a furrier family member.

Heller took two weeks paid leave last summer to bond with her newly-adopted rescue dog bode.

“We were able to walk around, go to the park,” Heller said. “I went and did his like vet, made sure he had all of his shots and just really got to know him as well. She works at mParticle, a New York City-based tech company that said its pet-friendly policies including bringing pets to work help them attract the best employees.

“I want to make sure that the people who work here feel like they have a good work-life balance,” mParticle CEO Michael Katz said. “If we can find people who are passionate about animals and animal welfare, and they’re also passionate about technology, we should hopefully be at the very top of their list.”

It’s the latest in a trend of companies looking for ways to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace offering perks like free lunches, gym memberships and nap pods.

Just last year, more than 70 percent of organizations increased their benefits packages all in an effort to retain employees.

That means perks for pet owners too. 

Just like Heller’s workplace, more companies across the country are starting to offer pet care benefits.

“It’s not enough to just pay people well,” Society for Human Resource Management CEO Johnny C. Taylor said. “They have to feel like they belong. An environment where you are welcomed and in fact, you feel included at work.

“When I first told my husband he laughed and he asked if this is a real job. Because it just sounded so ridiculous,” Heller said. 

Some might say the same.  

In 2016, only 13 percent of employees in the private sector had access to paid parental leave for children, but for companies like Heller’s, pet-friendly policies are paying off. 

“It’s really a dream come true when you think about it,” Heller said. “Sometimes I have to take a step back and say ‘Really? My company offers this?’ Because I’m in the company every day, I take it for granted.”

Believe it or not, other companies also offer paid pawternity leave for new pet owners — as many as 5 percent of company owners.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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