Need a ‘pawternity’ leave? Brock expert discusses how pets impact work-life balance

Anyone who has introduced a new pet into their household knows how much attention and training it takes to fully integrate it into the family.

The amount of time it takes to care for a new pet is prompting some employees to take ‘pawternity leave’ from work to fully dedicate their time to getting their pet settled.

A human resources professor from Brock University’s Goodman School of Business says that pet ownership can dramatically impact a family’s dynamic and, ultimately, employees’ productivity and work-life balance.

Deborah McPhee, Associate Professor of Human Resources Management

Ahead of National Pet Day, which is observed on Wednesday, April 11, Deborah McPhee, Associate Professor of Human Resources Management, discusses how some employers are adapting to trends by allowing employees to bring their pets to work and even take time off when welcoming a new pet.

In an article published earlier this year in The Conversation Canada, McPhee discussed changing family dynamics that place a greater emphasis on pets. People are staying single longer and owning pets instead of having kids, causing a change in the profile of the average family.

More families than ever own pets, which can pose challenges for work-life balance as people are forced to find options for pet care while they are at work.

While some employers allow pets at the workplace, it can cause productivity-reducing conflict between people who view their pets as stress-relievers and those who experience stress by working alongside pets they’re not comfortable with.

McPhee says she expects pets will become more integrated into workplaces as employers work to attract millennials who have a growing fondness for their ‘fur babies.’

Along with her Goodman School of Business colleague Robert Steinbauer, Assistant Professor of Business Ethics, McPhee is currently conducting research on organizations with pet-friendly policies, and learning how it can impact workplace productivity. If your organization, or you personally, are interested in participating in this research, please contact them at or

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