I was watching the news this morning and I heard something that I couldn’t imagine to be true. Maybe it was an “alternative fact” I thought. With so much fake news, its hard to decipher what is accurate any more. So I did some digging, and it turns out that this is in fact legitimate. What is it you, ask? A Scottish brewery is giving paid leave to its employees who adopt a new puppy, and its being called “paw-ternity” leave. Now, I don’t want to offend the dog lovers out there, but I have a hard time with this.
In some countries (or industries), women have a hard enough time getting enough maternity leave to adequately care for their child. Now, I know that a new puppy can be extremely challenging. There is an enormous amount of training that goes into those first few weeks, but should we liken this to a parental leave? Again, I don’t want to offend, and maybe it’s just the way that it is worded. But it doesn’t sit well with me. Pets have been shown to provide health benefits to the people who own them, so maybe there is value in allowing a leave to help get them settled. But where do you draw the line? Is it just for puppies, or do you allow new cat owners the same leave? Does the idea of a paw-ternity leave offend new parents?
In Ontario, new parents (of either gender) are entitled to a one year leave after your child is born. I believe that you are only eligible for parental leave for six months if you adopt a child. However, you are entitled to some kind of parental leave. That being said, if I’m a new mother, the idea that someone adopting a pet would also be entitled to a leave doesn’t seem fair. Granted, the amount of paid time off is less, but the idea is the same.
Don’t get me wrong, employers that offer these kinds of benefits to their employees come across in a much more attractive light. And, I can see the benefit of having that time off. I’m just not sure that it’s that black and white. What if I suddenly have a flood in my basement and need a day or two to deal with that? Can I have some paid time off to get it organized? Should we extend these benefits and broaden the reasons for allowing them? Such as more of an “emergency” leave? Maybe your employer allows up to one week off per year, paid, for “emergency” reasons.
Getting back to maternity leave, though, as I think this is important to understand where I’m coming from with my opinion. According to a Forbes article from 2016, the United States allows for 12 weeks maternity leave, but it is unpaid. Now, I’m sure there are companies and organizations that offer some kind of “top up” benefit, but this is the norm. In Canada, new parents are allowed up to 52 weeks, but only paid at 55%. Better than nothing, I guess. In Croatia, Denmark and Serbia new mothers can take up to one year off at full pay. So, when I hear that a company is allowing “paw-ternity” leave, I get my back up a bit because so many countries (including the United States) don’t even provide paid leave when you have a baby.
Maybe I’m out of line on this one. Maybe this company offers an extremely comprehensive paid leave package for new mothers, but it just seems like we don’t have our priorities straight when it comes to paid leave. Pets are important, but I have a hard time placing them above the needs of a child. I can’t wait for the backlash on this one!