One in five Canadians say that they needed to take time off work when they first brought their pet home, according to a recent poll conducted by Pawshake, an online service where people can offer and find pet services. In fact, the majority of pet owners said they had to take time off work at some point to care for a pet.
But what if they could take that time off without fear of reprisal or losing their job? Is it time for paid ‘peternity’ leave in Canada? SDTC spoke to Tanguy Peers, co-founder at PawShake, to find out what that could look like.
SDTC: Should pet moms have the same rights and benefits as human moms?
TP: We believe there should be a balance. Human parents have an enormous and special job to raise their children – that’s a full-time and very long-term commitment. Pets tend to become independent a lot faster – pet owners toilet train, obedience train and behaviour train young puppies and kittens so their pet can be left unsupervised when they go to work or go out; however, when pets first come home to their new humans, they definitely need a lot of love and attention and training, which will probably mean time off work for their parents.
What would this look like?
Paid pet leave would be a fantastic initiative and this responsibility could be shared between the pet’s new family. According to our research, one in five Canadians say that they needed to take time off work when they first brought their pet home – 19 per cent specifically for new pet training. Ten per cent of Canadians surveyed have taken time off work after a pet passes away. Bereavement leave is very important, as anyone who has had a pet knows that they’re part of the family, and their passing can have a big effect. This would be at the discretion of employers. We would like the government to step in and offer ‘peternity’ benefits. We would suggest a minimum of five days.
Why is this something we should be looking at implementing?
The simple answer is that pets are part of the family and for some people, pets are their only family. They bring such joy and happiness into our lives, and the benefits of owning a pet are extremely positive on everything from physical health, to mental health, to our social lives. The ideal workplace understands the importance of pets in owners’ lives – so pet bereavement leave, new pet parent leave, or even great initiatives like “bring your pet to work day” would lead to a happier, more open workplace.
What would you say to critics who take umbrage at putting pets and human children at the same level?
We’re not putting pets and human children at the same level by any means – we’re simply suggesting that perhaps workplaces underestimate the importance of pets in people’s lives, both on the lives of those that have children and those who don’t.
What are the benefits to offering ‘peternity’ leave to employees?
Offering peternity leave would likely mean more employees feel like they have space and time for a pet in their lives, and it’s well-documented that owning a pet leads to a better quality of life, and it would lead to a happier more productive workplace.