PTO for pets: Should workers get paid time off to care for their animals?

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Vacation season has begun in earnest — meaning your co-workers are probably slowly vanishing and the office is getting a little quieter these days, and that may or may not a good thing. We’ve all heard of paid time off for maternity and paternity, but should employees also get PTO for pets?

Vacation leave costs private industry about $1.04 per hour worked, according to U.S. Bureau of Statistics figures culled from recent years. Those numbers more than double if the worker is in management or an executive.

In essence, the cost of doing business today — what employers have to pay for insurance, wages and other expenses — continues to rise. That puts workers in a precarious position as many of them are saddled with trying to find ways to cut costs while at the same time justifying their positions and pay.

PTO for pets: Should employers provide paid time off for animal care?

One area that has been the subject to cuts in recent years is vacation time, the Bureau of Statistics data says. In the corporate world, many companies now use the umbrella term PTO (paid time off), which encompasses what you would normally call vacation days, but also includes sick time and any other personal time you may need without medical clearance.

That means if your spouse or child gets sick, your time away from the office is pulled from the same basket as your vacation. Most companies have separate policies for bereavement time — time away from work that is necessary to deal with the death of a loved one. But what happens if your family pet, which for many people is also family, becomes ill or dies?

Should you use up your paid time off, or should there be other provisions?

Should employees get ‘paw-ternity’ leave?

“The stages of grief and loss for a pet are no different than if you have lost (a human),” psychotherapist Jenn Mann, host of VH1’s “Couples’ Therapy with Dr. Jenn,” told Moneyish about this very subject. “I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with clients who have said, ”˜My dog or my cat was there through a difficult breakup or a divorce or a career catastrophe.’ Our animals are there for us, and they love us unconditionally.”

When it comes to bereavement benefits, it seems corporate culture has not yet caught up to the complex needs of many of their employees — and many airlines have all but ditched their bereavement fares.

However, some companies are implementing “paw-ternity” policies, which give workers time off for pet care. The trend is especially gaining ground in Europe.

One UK company, Mparticle, offers two weeks of paid leave for employees that adopt a rescue animal, according to the Sunday Times.


Laurel Peppino, a recruiter for the data platform company, told the Times: “We offer maternity and paternity leave and a pet is just another member of the family. We don’t discriminate just because they aren’t human.”

A Scottish brewery called BrewDog offers employees one week of “Puppy Parental Leave” as a perk when they bring a new pooch home.

So there’s evidence that some workplaces are, in a very meaningful sense, going to the dogs — and we think that’s a good thing.

But what do you think? Should employers foot the bill when our animals need our time? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.

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