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Pawternity and meternity pay – the future flexibility trends in workplace leave

Here we look at this and other future flexibility trends in workplace leave

We have a variety of different categories for authorised time off work, including adoption, parental leave and sick leave; however, with almost half of all homes in the UK having a pet, we do not have any specific leave in employment contracts to cover looking after a sick animal.

The idea of ‘pawternity’ leave is born of the fact that some people take in animals from relatives who have passed away, have a pet they need to take to the vets, or simply need to let a new animal settle in; however, as they are in long-term employment, they do not have the help available to sort out the family pet. There are some employers that encourage this type of leave, especially smaller outfits that are mostly family run; however, employers mostly expect their employees to take annual holiday in place of an actual type of leave.

There are other types of leave that are becoming popular among some companies, with these trends in workplace leave evolving at a rapid pace. There is a type of leave for child-free women who choose not to have children: ‘meternity’ leave. This is basically a twist on maternity leave whereby a paid sabbatical is available to travel, rest and recharge without using annual leave entitlements.

This type of leave could be extended to men, who may well use it as an extension of paternity leave after having a child or adopting. It could also prove to be very attractive to women in the workplace who can still, even in this day and age, feel less adequate than their male counterparts.

A lot of leave is geared towards taking time to be with the family. We all know that we should work to live rather than live to work; therefore, having time off that is mandated to us outside the weekends and bank holidays can be attractive as a perk.

Menstrual leave has also come up in talks for the future in employment, more specifically for women who suffer from uterine issues that require them to be laid up for the one week of the month that they are on their period. This is obviously something that needs a lot of consideration and tweaks; however, under the Equality Act 2010, it was noted that menses is a disability that renders some women unable to work due to the intense pain.

Leave to get married and have time to recuperate that does not involve annual leave entitlement is another option for future leave that companies could list in their perks. This could encourage people to give more at work if they are getting something out of it from which they can benefit. Ultimately, companies need to offer enough leeway for their employees to benefit from some freedom while still retaining a level of respect and loyalty.

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