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Should You Get Time Off Work If Your Pet Dies?

Pets that are part of the familySource: Pixabay

For many around the world, losing a pet is a deeply sad and sometimes traumatic experience. A dog or cat quickly becomes a firm friend and part of the family, and is often around for a decade or more. So when this friend passes, significant grief is an obvious reality, and it can be an understandably emotional time.

But should a pet owner be allowed time off in the case of a beloved furry friend passing on? Most companies around the world would probably take a request of time off for the passing of a pet as nothing short of a joke. However, an increasing amount of companies are starting to allow for bereavement leave for those who have had to say goodbye to Fido or Fluffy.

On the other hand, a request for time off in the case of a fish going belly up is, most would agree, starting to take advantage of the system.

Pets Are More Common Than Ever

GfK, a German based marketing research firm conducted a study in 2016 into pet ownership. The results were nothing short of incredible. It turns out that roughly half of all the humans on earth have some kind of pet. This includes not only dogs and cats but also birds, fish and even more exotic pets like spiders and snakes. Pet ownership is nothing short of a global phenomenon, and one that has grown immensely in just last the last 5 years.

This is a fact confirmed by Dan Ryan at the US Society for Human Resource Management. According to him, pets are making more of an impact on employee lives, and this is something that cannot be ignored. Pets are, as of recently, a $110 billion annual industry. But the impact goes far beyond financial significance.

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Embracing Pet Culture

Many work places have gone beyond in order to accommodate pet owners, and the increasing popularity of animal ownership. Bring your dog to work days are increasingly more popular, and companies like Google and Amazon are all but bursting at the seams with company pets. One IT firm based in Tokyo, Ferray, even houses the cats owned by its staff members.

Taking it one step further, a United States marketing firm in Minneapolis grants employees what is known as fur-ternity leave, which is exactly what it sounds like. Time off granted for those with new pets to spend time with the animal. A step too far some might say, but likely something that the employees at the company deeply appreciate.

In The Case Of Death

So it seems that many companies around the world are clearly going out of their way to embrace a culture that loves pets. But this still doesn’t answer the question; should time be allowed off in the case of a pet dying?

Susan Stehlik, a programme manager at the New York University, was asked the question. Her answer was one that evolved over time. Her initial response was a flat no, and she reported that many of those she asked in her place of work responded with much the same reaction. However, she reported that after turning the question over in her head, her initial response changed to a yes.

She elaborated by saying that the requests of employees must be respected, regardless of how it may be seen by others. Specifically, she stated, that it cannot be decided where love is assigned in an individuals life. What may be seen as an eye-rolling request by some may hold enormous significance to others.

Time off to grieve loss of a petSource: Pixabay

Abuse Of The System

But Dan Ryan added more to his initial response. He pointed out that pet bereavement days could be very easy to exploit, creating major problems for companies that might offer such courtesy. For starters, how would an employee even go about proving that they had a pet in the first place? Would a note from a vet be required in order to prove that a pet even existed?  Would a photo of a pet on a phone serve as proof?

A fair point to raise, and certainly a question that individual companies would have to work out for themselves. Likewise, it should also be expressed which pets deserved off time. Dogs and cats seem obvious, but who is to say how attached someone could get to a pet snake or spider?