Paw-ternity leave and flexible hours to care for new pets are becoming more accepted in workplaces here and overseas.

Although the New Zealand birth rate has been in decline since the 1960s, New Zealand is a nation of pet lovers, and Kiwis own more pets per household than anywhere else in the world, apart from the United States, according to a 2016 report by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council.

Furry companions are often viewed as members of the family, and some businesses are acknowledging the important role pets play in workers' well-being.

Rebecca Davidson, the commercial manager at Esportif International, was recently given two days of paid leave by her employer after adding a pup named Maggie to her family.


Davidson says the work flexibility offered by her employer has made it easier to look after both her fur and human babies.

"With flexible working hours, more and more of our friends are getting dogs, which is great," she says.

In 2015 the country's largest bank, ANZ, announced a flexible working scheme for all of its employees.

At the time, ANZ said flexible working hours had far-reaching effects on productivity in the workplace.

Davidson says she supports the "paw-ternity" and flexible hours trend as long as it doesn't interfere with employees' ability to do their jobs.

She has also noticed a growing trend of pets being allowed in New Zealand workplaces.

"I go to a lot of advertising and PR agencies around town and there's always an office dog or two, so I think that's the way it's going," Davidson says.

The "paw-ternity" trend is also becoming more common internationally. At least 20 UK businesses reportedly offer up to one week of paid leave to pet owners.


The policies include bereavement leave in the event of pet death as well as flexibility for employees to take their pets to veterinary appointments.