Maternity, Paternity, Furternity?

PupperThe competition between companies attempting to attract and keep qualified workers has taken an interesting turn. The Minneapolis-based marketing firm Nina Hale recently added “Fur-ternity Leave” to their list of benefits.  The company is now allowing employees a week to work from home after they adopt a new cat or dog, so that the animal can adjust to the new home environment.

The practice, which has also been called “paw-ternity” leave at other companies, is intended to help employees adjust their new furry friends to their bathroom routine, teach what places in the house are okay to be in, bond with their new pets, and address any other issues that come up when introducing a new animal to your family.

Allison McMenimen, a vice president at Nina Hale, told the New York Times, “For a lot of people, their pets are their children,” and they want to offer employees time to devote to their pets.  Nina Hale’s website states that they also offer “competitive maternity and paternity leave policies for new parents” and that they have been awarded “16 top workplace honors in [the company’s] 13-year history.”

In a statement on Nina Hale’s website CEO Donna Robinson said, “If we want to continue to set the example as a top workplace, it is crucial to offer innovative benefits that help to preserve the work-life happiness of our employee owners.” Warning: that link contains pictures of seriously cute pups.

Increasing work-life balance and employee satisfaction is key to attracting and retaining employees. In Delaware, we recently saw Governor Carney pass a bill that increased maternity and paternity leave to 12 weeks of paid leave for state-employed workers who have been in their job for at least one year. While a paw-ternity leave policy is still not the industry standard, it could emerge as one option in a growing list of ways for a company to make life less ruff.