In addition to sick leave, paternity leave and vacation days, there’s a new perk being offered to employees for paid time-off. The trend is called “fur-ternity leave” or “paw-ternity leave” and it allows workers to either care for a sick pet or help one adjust to a new home.
“For a lot of people, their pets are their children,” Allison McMenimen tells the New York Times. McMenimen is a vice president at Nina Hale, a digital marketing agency in Minnesota with about 85 employees. The company officially began providing pet-friendly work-at-home policies in July after receiving requests from workers. “The idea of offering benefits that just help keep employees at the office, that’s over,” she says.
The move reflects a trend, especially with tech-oriented companies who value skilled workers, of offering innovative and compelling incentives that go beyond the standard benefits package. Giants like Facebook and Google now offer gourmet meals in cafeterias, gyms on property and in-house daycare programs for parents.
A New York data company, mParticle, offers two weeks of paid time-off for those who adopt a rescue dog or even an exotic pet like an iguana. The time can be valuable in not only bonding with a new pet, making sure they’re housebroken and helping them get familiar with a new home, but also taking the new family member to the veterinarian.
“We were able to walk around, go to the park, made sure (my dog) had all of his shots and really got to know him as well,” says employee Meredith Heller.
“mParticle also allows pets in the workplace, a perk that helps the company attract the best employees. “I want to make sure that people who work here feel like they have a good work-life balance,” said CEO Michael Katz on the Today Show. “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.”
More than 70 percent of organizations increased their benefit packages last year. In 2016, only 13 percent of employees in the private sector offered paid parental leave for children.