Pet Bereavement

When a pet dies, should you give your employees time off?

You may have seen a news story last month, about a woman who was sacked for not turning up to work, as she was physically sick with grief after losing her pet dog.

As pets become more popular in the office and at home, and as people spend more money on their furry friends, it raises the question: should you give time off if an employee’s pet dies?

From a legal point of view, the short answer is ‘no’ as there are no laws regarding leave for pet bereavement or illness, but could showing compassion actually help your business in the long term?

It really is down to your views and the demands of the business. Some business owners may be sympathetic, whilst others may be less so. It could be that you just don’t have the capacity to allow time off on that particular day.

Whatever your view is, you should not underestimate the impact that the loss of a pet can have on your employees, and in particular, how productive will they actually be on the day. It may be worth considering allowing an employee to take some time away, either by giving a day of annual leave or expecting the time taken to be made up at a later date. There is also the option of compassionate leave.

Compassionate leave and pets

An employee has the right to time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

According to the UK government website, compassionate leave can be granted by an employer as paid or unpaid leave for emergency situations.

However, this is at the discretion of the employer. The site advises checking your employment contract, company handbook or intranet for details about the company’s policy on compassionate leave.

For many people, their animals are a big part of their family, and a death could be absolutely devastating. Would it really be reasonable to expect a member of staff to turn up to work and just get on with things under these circumstances.

Like we’ve mentioned, there’s no legislation on the matter, so it largely comes down to discretion. Statistically speaking though, it’s an issue that you’re likely to face at some point when you’re running a business and leading a team, so it could be worth thinking about what your position would be.

Would you consider offering your staff pet bereavement leave?

Get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation and confidential discussion around how we might be able to work together to update your people policies.