Taking care of a pet can be difficult with a full-time job, and some employers in the United Kingdom are introducing policies to make balancing work and animal parenting a little easier. According to TODAY, companies have begun to adopt "pawternity" leaves so that pet owners can take as much time as they need to nurse their companions back to health. 

Public Radio International (PRI) reports that paternity and maternity leave for parents of new babies are statutory in the UK, and with 60 percent of the nation's population being pet owners, more people are "warming to the idea" that pets may also need more time with their owners (and vice versa). A pet care insurance company was among the first to create a formal policy, according to The Bark, and it inspired other area businesses to follow suit, offering anywhere from a few hours to a couple months of paid leave for animal-related emergencies.

"We are quite sympathetic to pets in the UK," company and pet owner Greg Buchanan told PRI. Having had personal experiences with pets that needed more contact with their owners, Buchanan implemented the plan at his small tech company, but admits that it is on a case-by-case basis. "If somebody’s asking for time off for a goldfish, no, no—then it’s not quite what we set out for."

According to TODAY, estimates from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) show that there are more pets in U.S. households than there are children under the age of 18. But given the debate surrounding paid parental leave, the argument for pawternity leave will most likely be shelved for the time being.

[h/t TODAY]