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More businesses offer fur-ternity to pet-owner employees

Many companies have started offering pet-based benefits to their employees.

Adorably dubbed, “fur-ternity” or “paw-ternity,” the newest benefits trend allows employees to spend more time with a new animal they have adopted. Read on to learn more about the steps that should be taken to establish similar pet-based benefits. 

New York data company, mParticle, offers two weeks of paid leave and allows time for training and walks to employees who are adopting a rescue dog or buying an exotic animal. Minneapolis marketing company, Nina Hale, are a little less generous, allowing their staff to work from home for a week while caring for new dogs or cats. Other companies, such as animal rights publisher, The Dodo, encourage employees to bring their pets to work.

These pet-based benefits are a great tool to attract, retain and support new employees -- especially Millennials.

However, there are many considerations that employers should take into consideration before establishing these types of policies. The New York Law Journal warns to always speak with an employment lawyer first before adding pet-benefits in your business. Here are a few examples of policy issues that should be covered before allowing employees to leave the office for pet-related reasons or bring their pets into the office.

Leave for pet-related reasons

There are many decisions an employer must make before implementing a policy that allows employees to take leave for pet related reasons. A questions to consider include:

  • Are their different time limitations for taking time off to care for new animals, sick animals or the loss of an animal?
  • How long should a leave for pet-related reasons be?
  • Are leaves paid or unpaid?
  • What types of pets are covered?
  • Can you offer extra time off of work to pet-owners only?
  • How will the policy handle employees who own pets with special or ongoing care needs?

Pets in the office

Allowing pets in the office may create problems for other workers. A policy that allows pets in the officer should consider the following:

  • If the pet has an accident inside, how will the mess be managed?
  • What constitutes whether a pet is too loud or too aggressive to stay in the office?
  • Will pets be retained in a certain area of the office?
  • Might their be employees who would suffer from pet allergies or pet-related phobias? How will these cases be handled?

Ask an attorney

Employment law in New York offers generous paid leave benefits in some cases. For example, temporary disability benefits allow employees to receive partial paid-time off for up to 25 weeks for injuries that occurred outside of work. Similarly, if your company has great maternity/paternity leave benefits, creating room for more time off could create issues.

If you are considering adding pet benefits to your company’s policy, contact an employment law attorney to help you review which options may work alongside of other benefits you have in place. A lawyer will also help you set the terms of the pet-benefit offer, so that there isn't any confusion or conflicts after it's implemented.

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