Mars Petcare has teamed up with vets and created a pet care leave certificate. This document is provided by vets upon request by the pet owner and can be shown as proof to an employer that time was needed to be taken off work to care for an animal.
The pet care leave certificate was introduced on 5 November. This announcement comes off the back of Mars Petcare’s survey that found 98 per cent of Australians consider their pet to be a part of the family. Ninety-six per cent of respondents would confidently ask for time off to care for their sick children, but just 63 per cent would feel the same about asking for their pet.
Mars Petcare corporate affairs director Sophie Anning commented: “Our pets are treated like family, and they enrich the lives of millions of Australians. Now is the time to make a nationwide change and give pet owners the opportunity to care for their four-legged family members as they’re able to for any other family member.
“We know Australian pet owners are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of their animals, which is why Mars Petcare is actively advocating for employers and businesses to align their policies with the needs of pet owners,” she said.
Mars Petcare’s research found that 67 per cent of Australian pet owners believe their employer would not give them time off to care for their pet. They said in a statement that employers would benefit from introducing pet care leave policies, as 77 per cent of their survey respondents indicated they have reduced productivity when concerned about their sick pet. Seventy-two per cent of employees want pet care leave included in company policy.
If a pet gets sick, the survey said owners would:
- ask for a sick day (38 per cent);
- use annual leave (18 per cent);
- go to work (14 per cent);
- take the day off and lie to their boss (12 per cent);
- ask a loved one to look after their pet (11 per cent); and
- pay somebody to look after their pet (7 per cent).
Mars Petcare is piloting its own pet care leave policy to support staff and their pets.
Australian law firm Hive Legal introduced a pet care leave policy in October 2021, named “pawternity leave”.
Speaking with HR Leader, executive director and experience designer at Hive Legal Melissa Lyon said employees have used the policy to grieve and look after their pets: “Since we introduced pawternity leave last year, a number of our team have taken it up. In some cases, it has been to grieve lost pets or look after pets who have been injured or to settle a new pet … it has been welcomed and is valued by our team,” said Ms Lyon.
A manager at Hive Legal said: “I have hands and she had paws. Hive’s pawternity leave doesn’t see the difference in that, they just see the love. Pawternity leave offered me time off after losing my dog of 16 years.”
A Hive Legal associate commented: “I don’t have any human babies (yet) but this year, I lost my 14-year-old fur baby. It was pretty rough. Hive’s pawternity leave allowed me to go and pick up my dog’s ashes and take the time to properly grieve.”
They continued: “It was really lovely and comforting. More recently, I brought home my new fur baby, my miniature Dachshund, George. Yet again, I was able to utilise pawternity leave to help settle him in. I am grateful that Hive recognises that these sorts of life events truly matter.”
Annual leave refers to a term of paid vacation or time off, often accruing after four weeks of work per year (pro rata for part-time employees). Only full- and part-time employees typically accumulate annual leave.
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