New in Spain: paid leave for your pet

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paid leave for pet owners

In Spain, two companies are opening the door to paid leave for employees in the event of surgical procedures or the death of pets. This new trend responds to the need for ’emotional pay’ and declining birth rates.

The composition of families in Spain is changing, which is now also reflected in the workplace. The more than thirteen million registered pets exceed the number of children under 16 in Spain (6.96 million). Last year, Spanish legislation recognised animals as ‘sentient beings’ and imposed a duty of care on owners. Some companies saw this shift in social appreciation for pets as a sufficient reason to introduce pet-friendly employment conditions. Two examples cited by Infobae are Cegelec and Kiwokopet.

Innovative employment conditions

Cegelec is active in the electrical industry. Since 2022, this company has offered eight hours of paid leave per year for employees who have to accompany their pets to a surgical procedure. Kiwokopet, a pet store chain, allows employees to take time off work on the day of a pet’s death. These conditions indicate a growing recognition of the role of pets within the family. Moreover, they could easily be acquired by other companies.

Social negotiations and workplace flexibility

The introduction of these measures for employees with a pet shows that companies are open to social negotiations and improving workplace flexibility. At Cegelec, the pet leave initiative was positively received. Moreover, there is room for further expansion of these conditions. In addition to bereavement leave, Kiwokopet also offers other unofficial work-life balance measures, such as allowing pets in the workplace.

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The role of pets in the workplace

Experts emphasise that allowing pets in the workplace can help reduce work stress. It can also boost creativity. Companies that take this step often experience a positive impact on the working atmosphere. Although possible allergies and the behaviour of the animals must be taken into account.

The importance of ’emotional pay’

The trend towards pet-friendly employment conditions fits within a broader movement towards offering ’emotional pay’. This includes non-financial benefits that increase employee satisfaction and loyalty. Flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, and now also attention to the needs of pet owners, are all part of this development.

Challenges in the labour market

Despite these positive developments in terms of employment conditions, challenges in the labour market remain. This is evident from the wage negotiations at Cegelec and Kiwokopet. The balance between financial and emotional rewards remains a key consideration for companies looking to attract and retain talent.

Also read: Pet park opens at Madrid-Barajas airport

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