Petition calls for pet bereavement leave

pet bereavement leave
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A woman who claims she lost her job on the same day her dog died is calling for the right to bereavement leave following the death of a pet.

Emma McNulty claimed she was physically sick with grief after her dog was put down and asked her employer, a sandwich shop in Glasgow, for the day off work. She was told that she would be dismissed from her role unless she found cover for her shift.

She has started a petition, which has been signed by more than 2,700 people, calling for the introduction for bereavement leave following the death of a pet. She said the situation should be treated with “just as much importance as [the death of] a human family member” to allow employees the time they need to grieve without the worry of losing their job.

The petition says: “I recently lost my dog, a valued family member and companion, I grew up with her and developed a close relationship that only grew each day.

“Instead of being shown the compassion and sympathy stated in the contract I was sent a number of nasty messages and told I had to cover my shift as no bereavement time was allowed for pets. I did not go to work that day and I was recently fired and left unemployed the same day as losing my best friend. This caused me extreme distress and sickness.”

The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to “reasonable” time off to deal with an emergency situation, including the death of a dependent. However, this is usually a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent or someone who depends on the employee for care.

It is up to the employer how much leave to allow a worker and whether this period should be paid.

According to Acas guidance, grief can interfere with a bereaved person’s thought processes, concentration and sleep patterns, which could affect their ability to perform at work.

An Acas spokesperson 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.”

11 Responses to Petition calls for pet bereavement leave

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    Rachel 16 Aug 2019 at 11:02 am #

    Personally, I think they’ve done you a favour. Don’t get me wrong what your ex manager did was disgusting and us obviously in the wrong job. You need all qualities to be s good manager and that includes empathy.
    You will get another and better position but you can’t replace a beloved pet.

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    Catherine Bunting 16 Aug 2019 at 2:51 pm #

    I still remember really clearly losing my much loved elderly lurcher. I was juggling being a single Mum of a 4 year old with a senior role in a new business, having moved to a new town. A day at home and not being questioned or judged was all that was needed and my Director didn’t question me. His kindness has always stayed with me.

    I’m not sure that a policy specifically regarding Pet Bereavement is needed. However, this story really shows people management at its least empathetic, and the larger business to be failing in their leadership training. HR policies can’t account for every eventuality in the work place, but good management skills can, and where they lack, they can be addressed and trained.

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    William J Heath 16 Aug 2019 at 9:19 pm #

    Good work

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    victor rones 17 Aug 2019 at 10:07 am #

    In my view I believe that the owner should have time off without prejudice if their animal has died, paid or unpaid, with some compassion shown to the lady or gent worker.

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    Lisa Farley 21 Aug 2019 at 6:35 am #

    When my sweet rottweiler died I was devastated. I couldn’t eat and I was a second away from crying. I went to work like this and I was in a right state, couldn’t function for weeks. Took me years to get over and still hurts. I think pet bereavement is a great idea.

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    Heather 21 Aug 2019 at 7:59 am #

    Definitely need time off if one needs it. I was one of those people who didn’t understand this until it happened to me. We had a beautiful family pet for 15 years and the loss was hard. I did have to take time off – I couldn’t even speak on the phone to explain, I was in so much tears a colleague had to talk on my behalf.

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    Ashleigh Emery 21 Aug 2019 at 12:27 pm #

    It’s about time that companies accepted that pets are part of the family.
    Time of for children is widely accepted, ageing parents starting to be accepted.
    Losing a pet is devastating!
    Other countries offer paid time off. It’s time for the UK to endorse this as legislation.
    Smokers are still allowed to take breaks, non-smokers don’t. Parents have priority over holidays. Let’s have something for responsible pet owners.

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    Holly Singleton 22 Aug 2019 at 1:15 pm #

    When you lose your pet … you have lost family!
    Your bff .. your fur baby … very hard!
    Unless you’re not a pet lover or have been through this devastating time you would not understand!
    It takes time to get through this process and should be allowed time off from your workplace.

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    Annette Yarnell 2 Oct 2019 at 9:03 pm #

    I lost my elder dog on Monday, he had been suffering from congenital heart failure which had got far worse in the last year. My employers have been great, allowing me time to go to the vets, extended lunch breaks to pick up his meds etc. I was leave this week for a couple of days, Monday and Tuesday but had to rush my dog to the vets on Sunday when his breathing became erratic and Monday morning my vet rang to say he had not improved overnight despite being on oxygen. Due to the heart failure as well the kindest thing to do was to let him go. I am absolutely devastated but my employer again has been great and changed my leave to compassionate leave and have given me an extra day off as well. It won’t bring Gizmo back but I would like it if all employers showed this level of compassion. They are not just pets they are family members.

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      Annamarie McConvey 6 Apr 2020 at 7:41 pm #

      I think employers should be more understanding when we loose a pet. It makes me feel better to see all these great comments on this subject. This was talked about today in my workplace and one looked at me as if I had gone mad .

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    Lisa Byrne 7 Dec 2020 at 10:43 am #

    We have just made the heart wrenching decision to let our family pet Lily go with dignity at 6pm tomorrow after a loving 18 years. My daughter now 23 yrs old has had Lily in her life since she was 5 years old and this as you can imagine is unbearable for her. Having messaged her manager with the family situation to ask for some time to grieve her employer is refusing her time off. They have told she can leave work at 5pm tomorrow instead of 7.30pm to take Lily to the vets but would be expected back at work on Wednesday. My daughter is now beside herself with grief. I don’t know what to do. Time should be given off for family pets as they are not just pets they are a huge part of the family. Lily has become like one of my children and I cannot bear losing her. She has always been the centre of the whole family, I cannot even imagine what it is doing to my daughter who has only ever known Lily her whole life.

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