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CEO sparks debate over whether pet parents should be entitled to ‘pawternity leave’

Employers in the UK do not have a legal obligation to grant the time off

Saman Javed
Monday 18 October 2021 11:53 BST
<p>A puppy plays with a tug toy </p>

A puppy plays with a tug toy

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A retail boss has divided the internet after asking whether pet owners should be offered paid leave to look after new additions to their families.

Roger Wade, the founder of Boxpark – a popular social space in London that offers dining, drinks and shopping – asked LinkedIn users for their opinions after a member of staff asked for “pawternity leave” after getting a new puppy.

The post received more than 2,000 comments from people including company directors, senior managers and entry-level employees.

An accompanying poll, which had more than 34,000 responses, found that 61 per cent of people are against the idea, while 39 per cent think Wade should grant the leave.

One user, the director of a retail store in Birmingham who voted with the majority, said the employee should not be entitled to paid leave because they made the choice to have a dog.

“It’s not your employer’s issue or responsibility. If you feel that burning desire to get a dog, change your circumstances to allow it,” they said.

“I’m 43 and have only just got a dog because my work/life balance allowed it. I’ve wanted one since I started work.”

Another user, who works in human resources, said employers should consider what is valuable to their staff.

“I for one, as someone with no children and a new puppy two years ago took a week’s holiday to introduce and settle my new fur ball into our home and my employer at the time gladly granted this,” they said.

“Come on people, in today’s harsh, negative and work-heavy world surely, we can put more value to people’s lives by considering these relatively small requests.”

A third person, a public relations professional who recently got a new puppy, weighed up the arguments for and against “pawternity leave” in the comments.

They said the issue could signal a shift in how important events in the lives of employees are treated by company bosses.

“I have mixed feelings about this. As the owner of a fairly new puppy I know how valuable it was to not be working for the first few weeks we had her but I’m not sure where it ends in terms of things that lead to time off – do we give special leave for moving house? Kids taking exams? Or other things that disrupt lives for a few weeks?” they said.

In the UK, employers are not legally obligated to give their workers “pawternity leave”, whether paid or unpaid.

In 2017, pub chain and brewery Brewdog announced that it had introduced one week’s parental leave for all of its employees to take when they get a new puppy.

Wade later provided an update, revealing that he had allowed the employee to work from home whilst settling in their new puppy, Bailey.

In response to a LinkedIn user who said Wade’s employee is “playing him”, the Boxpark owner wrote: “I think he is genuinely concerned about his puppy. We are back in the office.

“He asked for leave but we agreed he could work from home. Bailey and employee are both happy. Win win!!”

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