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Pet bereavement

Should bereavement leave be extended for when a family pet dies?

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It is always an emotional time when a family pet dies. While some employers may comfort the bereaved with tissues and perhaps give them a lighter load that day, there is an online campaign for this occasion to be eligible for bereavement leave.

The campaign was started by a sandwich shop worker who couldn’t clock on that day due to the grief of losing her beloved terrier Millie. The sandwich shop was not so sympathetic, giving her the ultimatum: find cover or hit the road.

Pets are like members of the family. And no doubt, the grief when your furry friend passes away is real. But would you allow an employee to have time off to grieve in the same way you would for a family member of the human kind? Alternatively, would you leave the shutters down on your practice or spend time off work to come to terms with the loss of your pet?

And while most employers worth their salt will show compassion towards their employees, where should they draw the line? Is the death of a cat the same as a hamster?

Replies (55)

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By JoF
19th Aug 2019 16:34

Get a grip!

They can grieve in their own time.

Must be a slow day at Sift towers!

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RLI
By lionofludesch
19th Aug 2019 16:49

I would allow an employee to take holiday at short notice.

But that's as far as it would go.

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
19th Aug 2019 17:09

As a species, humans show contempt for the animal kingdom (pet owners included), so you can be almost certain that opinions will be largely that no leave should be given, and as JoF says, people should "Get a grip!".

But putting the side what it is that has passed away, surely it is the underlying grief that is causing the person to be off, and if they are genuinely suffering, then they should be granted leave just like with any other ailment.

As a society, we are guilty of not attributing as much importance to mental injuries as we do physical injuries. Maybe it's time we started taking mental well being just as seriously as physical well being.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
19th Aug 2019 17:39

Whilst your sentiments are admirable, if you put it in statute, everyone will have a day off every time their goldfish is taking a swim belly up.

Its the old story of giving an inch, and people taking a mile.

Its a judgement call requiring some common sense rather than legislation. Sacking people for having an emotional reaction is pretty poor management.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Aug 2019 10:34

I agree that legislation isn't required, but a bit of understanding that these things hit people differently.

People take the pi.ss with sick leave as it is, so you'll get those that abuse it. But that shouldn't stop those who genuinely suffer from these situations from getting a bit of understanding.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Tornado
By Tornado
20th Aug 2019 15:58

"Whilst your sentiments are admirable, if you put it in statute, everyone will have a day off every time their goldfish is taking a swim belly up."

What about my pet ants. I get a bit upset when one of them dies and think that there should be some sort of statutory leave to deal with this grief ... on a daily basis in the case of ants.

They are not really pet ants of course, they just get in under the French Doors in the summer, but they feel like pets and a lump does come to my throat when my real pet, an Anteater, slurps them up every now and then for lunch.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By Mr_awol
19th Aug 2019 17:39

Yes, I agree it is important to consider the mental health of e'ees - but also not to become their mothers.

As for contempt for the animal kingdom, I think some perspective is required. I loved my cat dearly and genuinely got really upset when I had to say goodbye to him - but as much as he had a personality, thoughts and feelings, at the end of the day he was a cat, not a person.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Aug 2019 10:36

Mr_awol wrote:
at the end of the day he was a cat, not a person.


Proof of the contempt right there.
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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By Bluffer
20th Aug 2019 11:44

I'm certainly not looking to enter into an argument with you as I do agree in principle with your view that we humans tend to regard ourselves as superior to animals (despite the fact that we are animals ourselves), but have you ever swatted a fly or killed a wasp?

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Replying to Bluffer:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Aug 2019 12:01

Often. Killed 2 wasps this morning, and there's a little buzzing bar steward due to get it soon.

I'm not coming from any sort of high ground, I'm just as guilty of treating animals with contempt.

I'm merely pointing it out and suggesting that it may be the reason for some of the negative responses to the original query. If the focus of the query was purely on whether leave should be granted for grief, I suspect there'd be a different tone.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By Bluffer
20th Aug 2019 12:06

Agreed.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By Mr_awol
20th Aug 2019 13:22

Lone_Wolf wrote:

Mr_awol wrote: at the end of the day he was a cat, not a person.

Proof of the contempt right there.

No - proof of a sense of proportion.

Contempt would be completely disregarding the feelings, importance, or worth of the cat. That wasn't the case at all.

I just don't believe that all animals are equal, comrade.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By meadowsaw227
20th Aug 2019 11:31

I have every respect for the animal kingdom and wild animals.
However I will not have anything in my house that can not be trained to not wipe its 4rse on the floor ! .

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By Mr_awol
19th Aug 2019 17:34

Small businesses cant afford to have unreliable staff dropping out at short notice.

Like Lion, I would probably allow a short notice holiday - depending on how busy we were.

I'm not saying it would definitely affect their future progression, but I'd suggest this isn't the best move if you want to 'get on' in life. If someone took the week off, or insisted on a few days when we were really busy, it would certainly be remembered.

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By Wanderer
19th Aug 2019 17:39

When a bereavement policy is in place it's amazing how many grandmothers that some people have. Me, I only had two, but some people seem to have many more than this when it fits the bereavement policy.
Extend this to pets and they'd never be at work.

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By bendybod
20th Aug 2019 10:20

I take your point but in this world of couples not staying together, my 'step-granddaughter' has at least eight 'grandparents' - each of her biological grandparents has divorced and had at least one partner for a significant part of her adolescence, all of whom she regularly sees. Unfortunately, the world is not as straightforward as it once was but common sense really does have to prevail over legislating for everything.

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
21st Aug 2019 17:13

The father of one of my childhood friends had 4 funerals for the same parent. She was buried near the coast and they had to keep moving the grave due to erosion.

No idea of his employer’s view.

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By Justin Bryant
19th Aug 2019 17:47

A good vetting system would avoid this problem.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Simon V
20th Aug 2019 10:22

Justin's never had more thanks on a post! Genius.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Vallery Lee
20th Aug 2019 12:46

Are you referring to vetting people or a good system of animal care?

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Replying to Vallery Lee:
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By Justin Bryant
20th Aug 2019 13:36

Groan...(unless you are deliberately taking the mickey of course - in which case ho, ho!)

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Vallery Lee
22nd Aug 2019 16:20

Hi Justin - well someone had to say it!

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By johnhemming
19th Aug 2019 19:48

AFAIK there is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave anyway.

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By NH
20th Aug 2019 08:35

Can you legislate for basic human compassion to be shown to a colleague? If an employer does not have the decency to show sympathy for a day or two in a situation like this they should not be in a position of authority over others.
In the case involved the employee could have just phoned in sick (which she was) and the employer would not have sacked her, instead she was honest, told the employer she was struggling and she got sacked! What a world.

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By Duggimon
20th Aug 2019 08:45

Wouldn't a better starting point be to campaign for bereavement leave for when people die first?

Given that there's no automatic entitlement should your parent, spouse or children die, other than a vague requirement for employers to allow reasonable but unpaid time off to allow you to make arrangements - with no provision for grieving - it would seem that jumping straight to a request for time off to allow you to grieve for your dog is an odd move.

That said, as an employer, if people want to take time off, for this or any other reason, we tend to accommodate as much as possible.

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By bernard michael
20th Aug 2019 09:39

Alas I cannot reply today as my pet snail has died

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By Ben Alligin
20th Aug 2019 10:39

A hamster's average life span is 2 years, a cats 14+ therefore always opt for the hamster, you will get an extra 6 days off on compassion leave for the duration of your cat lifespan.

Obviously if your cat eats the hamster, you will get additional days off!

Finally you can always play the 'a year in a dog's life is the equivalent of 7 human years', therefore multiply your compassion day off by 7.

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Replying to Ben Alligin:
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By LostinSuspense
22nd Aug 2019 15:56

Why not get multiple hamsters and a cat.

In our house 2 weeks would be an incredibly good lifespan for a hamster....

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By justsotax
20th Aug 2019 11:56

for those who have people who appear to have regular time off (duvet days and dead aunts) maybe its the back to work interview (and the original choice) that needs looking into.

A quick review of the sickness record usually tells you all you need to know about someones attitude to work...and has little or nothing to do with having a pet or not.

These type of people don't worry about taking time off....whatever the excuse....as an employee if you have these people then you need to root out the problem not worry whether they will get a pet....

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By kestrepo
20th Aug 2019 14:45

I worked with someone who asked for bereavement leave because his pet Rat died.......... I seem to recall he took it out of his holiday allowance in the end.

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Psycho
By Wilson Philips
20th Aug 2019 16:04

I'm mourning the 'loss' of not one but three goals by my football team last night. Should I have asked my staff if I could have the day off?

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
Tornado
By Tornado
20th Aug 2019 16:14

I think that is covered by the existing provisions of getting drunk out of your mind, and then phoning in sick the next day. A well tried and tested procedure that usually works.

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Replying to Tornado:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
21st Aug 2019 11:46

And explains why certain clubs have fans with a reputation for inebriation.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By bendybod
21st Aug 2019 16:12

They would probably have been quite happy for you to have taken the day off if the alternative was walking around in a grump because your team lost. Alternatively, give them the day off so they don't have to suffer for your team's inadequacies.

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By NH
20th Aug 2019 16:22

There really are some utterly stupid and ignorant comments on this thread.
In the case concerned the lady had been sacked as she was unable to work on the day following the death of her friend and companion of 14 years - hilarious that isn't it!

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Replying to NH:
By Duggimon
20th Aug 2019 16:29

Nobody thinks it's hilarious that the woman was sacked, the comments addressing that particular issue have only pointed out the employer is entitled to sack her for not coming in to work when she was scheduled, if that's how they want to handle it, there is no statutory entitlement for time off for grief, whether it's for humans or animals.

The jokes are all directed at the idea that maybe there should be a statutory entitlement for grieving for your pets which, as the respondents are pointing out in jocular fashion, is ridiculous.

Nobody thinks it's funny her dog's dead though, get over yourself.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By NH
20th Aug 2019 17:03

Nice! Friendly and polite...

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Replying to NH:
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By Mr_awol
21st Aug 2019 10:31

NH wrote:

Nice! Friendly and polite...

TBH you were the one dropping in calling people's comments "utterly stupid and ignorant". Duggimon simply corrected you and gave you some valuable life coaching. The bulk of their response was more friendly and polite than your original comment IMHO.

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Replying to NH:
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By Mr_awol
21st Aug 2019 10:31

NH wrote:

Nice! Friendly and polite...

TBH you were the one dropping in calling people's comments "utterly stupid and ignorant". Duggimon simply corrected you and gave you some valuable life coaching. The bulk of their response was more friendly and polite than your original comment IMHO.

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By sarah douglas
20th Aug 2019 22:32

Since Lone wolf likes to make statements that I have stigmatised people who are ill. Under no circumstances have I ever stigmatised anyone who is ill no matter what the circumstances. I have been a member since 2009 so those who know me know that is not the case . Saying someone needs to grow up because there are far more important laws that should be past for employment law is not stigmatising mental health.

I feel very strongly about this subject .

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Replying to sarah douglas:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Aug 2019 16:36

sarah douglas wrote:
All creatures are great and small.

Not elephants. They're bloody huge!
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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By sarah douglas
21st Aug 2019 12:45

Lone Wolf Pretending to be friendly.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Aug 2019 16:42

sarah douglas wrote:
The person needs to grow up.

And here shows the stigma associated with those experiencing mental ailments.

If the individual in question was genuinely suffering from grief, then how is "growing up" going to help them.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
By Duggimon
20th Aug 2019 16:49

Grief is an emotion, not a mental health issue. One can affect the other or exacerbate the other but don't get them confused.

If the issue here was that the employee was off sick with mental health issues and was sacked for it, it'd be a totally different problem.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By sarah douglas
20th Aug 2019 22:29

.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By sarah douglas
20th Aug 2019 22:21

.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
21st Aug 2019 11:37

sarah douglas wrote:

Since Lone wolf likes to make statements that I have stigmatised people who are ill. Under no circumstances have I ever stigmatised anyone who is ill no matter what the circumstances. I have been a member since 2009 so those who know me know that is not the case . Saying someone needs to grow up because there are far more important laws that should be past for employment law is not stigmatising mental health.

I feel very strongly about this subject .


And yet you decide to edit your original comment so that no one can see to judge for themselves...
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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By sarah douglas
21st Aug 2019 12:57

Lone Wolf, I removed the comment as you deliberately accused me of stigma over a dog. Humans are being kept in shipping containers in the UK I think it is more important laws are made to protect children.

Accounting Web please show the original comment.

Your such a Keyboard warrior. You don,t even have the guts to post your name and you have made false allegations. You mention about my comment been edited why are so afraid to put your real name.

It must be sad that you have to spread lies. I am actually registered as disabled so I would never treat someone with a stigma.

At no point did I ever stigmatised anyone with a mental illness.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
21st Aug 2019 13:57

sarah douglas wrote:

Lone Wolf I removed the comment as you deliberately accused me of stigma over a dog. Humans are being kept in shipping containers in the UK I thinks it is more important laws are made to protect children.

Accounting Web please show original comment.

Your such a Keyboard warrior. You don,t even have the guts to post your name and you have made false allegations who is the bully now. You mention about my comment been edited why are so afraid to put your real name.

It must be sad that you have to spread lies. I am actually registered as disabled so I would never treat someone with a stigma.

At no point did I ever stigmatised anyone with a mental illness and you know that you are not telling the truth.


What false allegations did I make?

You posted "The person needs to grow up." To me, that suggests a lack of empathy, and is akin to the kind of poor attitudes that are regularly voiced about people suffering from mental ailments.

You may not have intended that, and it may not be how you feel, but it is how it came across, and provided an example of what I was talking about. I didn't highlight it to specifically attack you, but rather to point out what I see as the prevailing attitude in society as a whole.

I'm not quite sure what has your disability has got to do with anything? Do disabled people not treat others with stigma?

You're clearly getting a bit upset here so maybe it's best we both step away from this.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
21st Aug 2019 11:43

How life/society has changed.

In the late 1970s my wife's father died. A few months after this her grandmother died. On the second death she approached her university history tutor (who actually later was my tutor- we were both at Edinburgh at the same time though I did not know her back then) to ask for an extension re submission of an essay.

Grudgingly he granted her a one day extension (so generous) on the basis that it was only a grandmother not a parent.

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