South African Companies Could Soon Start To Offer ‘Pawternity’ Leave

By  |  May 19, 2019

Recently many companies in the United States have updated the privileges they grant their employees in a bid to retain them and as well as attract new recruits. Companies like Facebook and Google have gone a notch further by providing gourmet meals in cafeterias, gyms at work and daycare on site.

Kenya’s telecommunication company Safaricom supports employees with children through on-site crèches, ‘bring your child to work’ policy breastfeeding rooms, shift preference system at call centres, and an on-site doctor.

Today, many HR departments are expanding their parental leave policies past human children. Many companies in the US, UK, India are offering ‘pawternity’ leaves.

Pawternity leave is paid time-off given to employees for the care of ill or injured pets or when they adopt a new puppy.

The issue of keeping pets has been largely viewed as ‘white culture’ as most Africans do not value pets. They keep animals to help them for instance cats are kept to catch the mice that eat the corn and dogs are kept because they help herd other animals, or to help with hunting.

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But things seem to be changing unexpectedly fast as some South African companies are considering giving their employees pawternity leaves.

Nicol Myburgh, head of HR at CRS Technologies said pawternity leaves are not a statutory form of leave instead they are within the category of unregulated leave offered at the employer’s discretion.

“It is important for employers to know that they don’t have to wait for legislation to come into effect in order to implement pawternity leave – employers may choose to offer ten hours or three days per year, or even more. It is entirely at their discretion,” said Myburgh.

“Employers are generally free to offer staff various types of leave not covered by legislation but recognized and governed by company policy and contracts.”

While implementing it could have a positive impact on an employees output, Myburgh said it is open to abuse and it ought to be closely monitored. For this reason, Myburgh noted that before approving the non-statutory leave types, companies should weigh the business risk against operational requirements and the number of staff members needed to achieve operational goals.

“For instance, if an employee takes leave that keeps him/her away from the office for a long period of time, like sabbatical leave, the employer should determine whether the employee’s absence will negatively impact the business operations,” he said.

Featured Image Courtesy: the Moms

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