Multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog introduced its ‘pawternity’ leave policy in February 2017 for 1,600 global employees; the scheme aims to support the wellbeing of its young workforce, while simultaneously aligning to the organisation’s brand.
The policy, which can be used on one occasion during an employee’s career at BrewDog, allows all staff to take a week of fully paid leave when adopting a new puppy or rescue dog, to help bond with and acclimatise the new pet.
Fiona Hunter, head of people at BrewDog, explains: “On the surface, it felt like quite a playful thing to do, but [the] reality is we could see it would make a tangible difference to the wellbeing of our team.”
The pawternity policy was the result of an employee suggestion, put forward during one of BrewDog’s regular question and answer sessions with its directors. Hunter notes that the idea was seen to have value, primarily to support the wellbeing of employees, as well as to align with the organisation’s brand: “Dogs are at the heart of everything we do as a business,” she adds.
The leave initiative was also introduced to support diverse family and lifestyle goals. Hunter says: “We have quite a young workforce, perhaps people who haven’t come to that stage in their life where they’re starting families quite as often as in other businesses, but people who still want to have a terrific home life.
“In this modern age, that traditional family unit has changed so drastically that we have to think creatively about what family means to people. That traditional mum, dad, kids set up isn’t for everyone anymore.”
The policy was launched with a video featuring employees’ dogs at BrewDog’s Glasgow brewery, and a corresponding photoshoot showing the pets ordering beers from its bar. These communications were shared with employees globally.
Pawternity leave forms part of BrewDog’s wider employee wellbeing strategy, which also includes private healthcare for all staff, regardless of seniority. The policy is also supported by an historical workplace practice where employees are allowed to bring their dogs into work with them; this has been in place since the business started in 2007.
Since February 2017, 140 employees have used their pawternity leave entitlement.
Hunter has found the policy to have a knock-on effect on employee morale and engagement, especially when staff members bring their new pets into the workplace.
“That ripple effect that it has, not just for the individual who takes the leave and gets a new dog, but for colleagues and for the people around them, it’s phenomenally engaging,” Hunter concludes.