National Pet Day is just another reason to celebrate our furry friends and the joy their companionship brings. Over half of U.S. households owned some sort of pet in 2016—the highest ever recorded (according to the American Pet Products Association). With pet ownership at an all-time high, it makes sense that pet insurance, pets at work, pawternity leave and pet bereavement leave are benefit trends making their way into workplaces everywhere.
1. Pet Insurance
According to the International Foundation 2018 Employee Benefits Survey, 16% of employers offered pet insurance as a voluntary benefit in 2016, and 18% offered it in 2018. Pet insurance typically covers veterinary care for accidents and illnesses and doesn’t usually cover routine preventive care. Having pet insurance in place can potentially save employees from serious financial stress if a medical emergency occurs.
2. Pets at Work
Before you start printing business cards for Fido, VP of cuteness, employers have many things to consider before allowing employees to bring pets into the workplace. Pets at work can help with recruitment, retention and stress relief, and they can make pet parents/employees feel less distracted about leaving Fido at home. On the flip side, they could be distracting for other workers (especially those with allergies!), and employers could face potential problems like damage and legal issues. Allowing pets in the workplace is common among only 2% of employers, and that number was also 2% in 2016.
If you’re thinking of allowing pets at work, start with a “bring your pet to work DAY” instead of “bring your pet to work EVERY DAY” and see how that goes—how many participate, how the pets behave and how employees react. If you do decide to offer the benefit, set rules and expectations for both the pets and the pet parents. Perhaps set pet zones and non-pet zones in the building for workers with allergies.
3. Pawternity Leave
Also known as pet care leave with a cuter name. Pawternity leave provides employees with time off to help a pet (and themselves!) adjust to its new home. According to the International Foundation Paid Leave in the Workplace survey report, 19% of employers said that they offer pawternity through a paid time off bank where workers can combine different kinds of leaves into one. Only 1% offer pawternity through a separate paid plan, and 6% offer through unpaid leave.
4. Pet Bereavement Leave
We all know that pets are part of the family, and a pet passing away can take a huge emotional toll on a worker. Some employers offer 1-3 days of paid or unpaid leave for the loss of a pet.
Happy National Pet Day!
Since I love both puns and pets almost equally, here are a couple to help you celebrate National Pet Day. What are your experiences with pets and the workplace? Please share in the comments below!
Communications Associate at the International Foundation
The latest from Word on Benefits:
- The State of Defined Contribution Retirement Plans in 2021
- Employee Benefits and COVID-19: Changing the Future of Benefits Today
- Meeting the Benefit Needs of Your LGBTQ+ Plan Members
- What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines and Return to Work
- Organizations Face New Health and Retirement Benefit Implications Due to COVID-19