Should Employers Allow Pet Bereavement Leave?

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Monday, 26th August, 2019 was not only the hottest August Bank Holiday on record but was also National Dog Day.

This reminded me of an article that I read recently. Emma McNulty worked for a sandwich shop in Glasgow and was very upset when her dog had to be put down. She asked her employer if she could have the day off work but was told she would be dismissed unless she found someone else to cover her shift.

She started a petition which, at the time of writing, had 23,392 signatures calling for the introduction of pet bereavement leave saying that the death of a pet should be treated with as much importance as the death of a human family member so that the employee has the time they need to grieve for their loss without fear of losing their job.

Employees have the right under The Employment Rights Act 1996 to have “reasonable” unpaid time off in an emergency situation but this involves an emergency relating to a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent or someone who is dependent upon the employee for care.

I am sure we can all understand that grief can interfere with a bereaved employee’s levels of concentration and perhaps their sleep pattern which would have a knock-on effect on their ability to perform in the workplace.

A spokesperson from Acas said: “The law gives a day one right for an employee to have reasonable time off work to deal with a bereavement involving a dependent. Bereavement is a very personal issue and can affect different people in different ways.

“Dealing with bereavement can impact a person’s mental health. Pets are not specifically mentioned within workplace bereavement legislation but the death of a beloved pet can impact a worker’s mental health and a good employer should be sensitive and mindful of their employees’ wellbeing.”

What are your thoughts on this? If pet bereavement leave should be offered, how much time would you consider appropriate? We’d love you to let us know on social media.

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