Should employees get pet bereavement leave?

Employment & Skills | Reports

A petition calling for the allowance of bereavement leave following the death of a pet has nearly reached 10,000 signatures. Emma McNulty started the petition after being sacked from her job for missing work after the death of her beloved dog Millie.

In the UK all employees have the right to take time off to deal with an emergency concerning a dependant. This can apply to spouses, parents, grandparents, children or someone who depends on you for care, but it is unlikely that this benefit would include the death of a pet. However, is this fair?

More and more families are seeing their furry friends as loved family members rather than owned pets.

Research from Front of The Pack found that:

  • 85% of millennials agree that dogs should be treated like a part of the family
  • 53% of millennials agree that companies should offer employees pet-ernity leave (paid leave to spend time with new pets)
  • 46% of millennials think of themselves as a pet parent rather than a pet owner

Dr. Steph Wenban, Front of The Pack’s vet and pet wellbeing expert, commented: “For many homes, pets constitute as family members and are treated with the same love and care as a relative. Therefore, the loss of a pet is extremely saddening and can affect the owners ability to function just as the bereavement of a normal family member. Employers should recognise this, compassionate leave should be granted on emotional attachment and subsequent loss, not black and white guidelines that are hugely subjective from person to person as to what constitutes as loss.”

So, should employees get pet bereavement leave? Email

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  1. I lost my dog in December last year, and I can still breakdown and sob. After his death I was subjected to ill health, I contracted a series of virus’s then I contracted Shingles. The Doctor said I was very low and my natural defences were down due to the effect his loss was having on me, which is why my health suffered. I didn’t take any time off after his death, but I was pretty useless in the office.

  2. Pet bereavement can easily spark reactive depression so what may seem like something trivial to someone who has never lost a pet, the repercussions can be serious. If employers are really taking mental health seriously, some compassion at the time might not be so shortsighted after all…

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