Should You Allow For Time Off From Work When Your Pet Dies?


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The issue of pet bereavement leave is a divisive one. Many employees are afraid to request leaves from their employer as they think their colleagues may make light of their pain and may communicate the same to the HR. People who have no pets cannot understand such pain. For a person who just lost their beloved pet, the pain is real and in some cases debilitate the daily actions of the affected employee. It is at least as life-changing and distressing as loss of a human companion. The death of a pet is not a 15-minute job where you express condolences and then get back to work as if nothing has happened.


Different countries have different rules for dependents. These include time off for unforeseen circumstances and emergencies. The definition of a dependent covers a child, spouse, grandchild. Parent, or someone you deeply care for. A few employers will have no problems including pets in the dependent category. The problem is that the word "pet" is not written into the legislation. The practice will depend on the attitudes and policies of individual organizations and their individual employers. If you wish to take time off for dependents, this will be a situation where your pet still lives but is in a critical stage which warrants to take a day or days off. Emergency days are those days which you have not foreseen.

Compassionate leave

Your employer may not regard your pets as your dependents. You, however, could be permitted to take a few "compassionate" leaves in-case the animal is in dire need of emergency care. Do note that such a leave depends on your employee contract terms. The employer's policy for compassionate leave takes precedence in such respects.

Bereavement leave

It is interesting to know that an increasing number of employers now consider a pet as a family member and does not hesitate to grant "paw-eternity" leave if such a condition comes to the fore. The problem is that such compassion is found to be absent when the pet is alive or even at the end of a life. Employers have absolutely no legal obligation to offer bereavement or compassionate leave. These leaves could be paid or unpaid. Although employees have every right to take some time off to tackle any emergency situation, which includes the death of any dependent, the laws fail to state the provisions post-death, including the grieving time.Many employers now add bereavement leave to their employee contracts but it continues to be a Grey area. This becomes particularly muddy if the case concerns a pet. The bereavement time for any pet extends from six days to six months, depending on the love bequeathed on the animal.

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