Constant socio-economic development in South Africa means that our country’s laws have to adapt continuously to keep up with our changing society. One change many are hoping will become official is ‘pawternity’ or furternity leave for employees.

This type of leave allows owners of new pets to take time off to enjoy the latest addition to their home while ensuring their pets settle into their new environment well.

Currently, this is not a legally-recognised form of leave but rather falls within the category of unregulated leave which can be offered by an employer at their own discretion.

Local HR head at CRS Technologies, Nicol Myburgh, spoke to BusinessTech about the future and possibilities of this kind of leave.

“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.

Independent companies can institute pawternity leave but a detailed policy must be formulated in order to decide the number of leave days that will be offered as well as the qualifying criteria – this could include when a pet is sick or newly adopted or contain details as to whether a vet’s note or breeder certificate is required.

According to Myburgh, it is completely up to the employer whether they offer this kind of leave. The company must decide if they are willing to risk the potential abuse of the policy or cost to company because of it in order to have happier employees. This kind of policy would need to be closely regulated.

“Employers are generally free to offer staff various types of leave not covered by legislation but recognised and governed by company policy and contracts. This ‘other leave’ is not a right and ought to be seen as a privilege,” he said.

Leave currently covered by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act includes: annual, sick, family responsibility, maternity leave and other outliners such as study or cultural leave – or pawternity.

When approving other leave types as mentioned above, the company has to pay careful attention as to what risks having the employee away could cause and ensure that operational goals of employees are considered.

As our laws continue to change, pawternity or furternity could become an officially-recognised form of leave and locals are encouraged to discuss these possibilities with their employers.


Picture: Unsplash

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