According to a 2006 survey by the Society for Human Resource Managers, the percentage of employers offering discounted pet insurance to their employees is growing: five percent of companies surveyed offered pet insurance in 2006, up from three percent in 2002. Animal Fair found that some lucky workers have bosses that have taken family benefits to a whole new level: “peternity leave” could be the next big thing to hit your benefit package.
Greta Palmer is a single woman, dog lover, and an account manager for Lead Dog Marketing in Manhattan. When she found her Midtown apartment getting a little lonely on Sunday mornings, she decided it was the right time to adopt a puppy. She discovered a website called Petfinder.com, and that’s where she met Willie Joe, the Lab-mix puppy who captured her heart. “I equated it to Match.com and thought, ‘I’ll just see what’s out there,’” said Palmer. “I saw his photo and found myself choosing him and hoping he would choose me.” Arrangements were made for Willie to travel from the Arkansas farm he was born on, to the Big Apple. She knew it would be a big adjustment for him and she also knew that having a dog in the city requires a huge commitment. “I really didn’t have a plan,” admits Palmer. “It was literally the night before Willie arrived, I called my boss and asked him if he would be interested in implementing a peternity leave policy. He agreed.”
Peternity leave? What exactly does that mean?
“We have women at our firm who have small children and so do a lot of work from home. I asked for the opportunity to work from home for three weeks while Willie and I got used to our new life,” Palmer explains.
Unlike maternity leave, Palmer was actually working for her company during those three weeks, but she didn’t have to report to the office. That gave her a lot more time to spend with Willie and train him and establish new routines. “I think it made a huge difference,” Palmer continued. “It helped establish my role in his life.”
So, what did her boss think about all this? Apparently, it fit in perfectly with his brand of “corporate policy”.
Dan Mannix is the President and CEO of the aptly titled Lead Dog Marketing firm. According to him, peternity leave exemplified a part of what he had in mind when he founded the company. “We wanted to do three things: First, we wanted to work with great people, people we had fun with. Second, we wanted to translate that into doing great work for our clients. Third, was the Lead Dog lifestyle. That meant trying to be flexible. People aren’t cookie-cutters. Everybody’s different. I think accommodating that serves the goal of doing great work.”
Sue Murphy, Association Manager for the Association of Human Resource Managers said, “I have never heard of anyone giving peternity leave, so that’s a new one on me. What I do see is more and more employers are doing flexible hours to allow people to balance demands of home and work. It’s really a part of an effort to retain employees that are of value.”
According to Greta Palmer, her company’s flexibility further cemented her commitment to them. “I hope it inspires more companies to do the same.”