Should you be given time off work if your family pet dies?
A few weeks ago, we lost our beloved terrier-cross 'Max' to cancer. What made it all the worse was that Max was only eight years old and prior to his diagnosis had shown no signs of illness. In the few days before his passing he had become a little lethargic and not his usual bouncy self, so we took him to the vets. Long story short, he died a few days later from a situation caused by the advanced stage cancer.
An unexpected shock for the family
Max’s passing happened very quickly, which looking back on it could be viewed as a positive, as he didn’t suffer for very long, however, it was made all the more difficult to deal with as it was unexpected and not something we, as a family, had mentally prepared ourselves for. To put this into context, my father-in-law recently passed away and whilst this was an incredibly difficult time for the family, he had been unwell for many years and when he eventually passed, it was more of a blessing as he was suffering no more.
A wider conversation around empathy at work
Last week I was listening to a radio debate about a young lady called Emma McNulty who had been too upset to go into work after her terrier Millie unexpectedly died. Her manager reportedly showed her little compassion and subsequently asked her to leave the job. As the owner of a business and someone who has recently lost a dear friend and pet, I thought it was relevant that I provide my input on this subject.
Does human loss mean more than animals?
During my career, which includes about 15 years of people management, I have always believed it’s important to offer kindness and compassion to employees, as you tend to reap what you sow. If Emma had taken bereavement leave due to the death of a ‘human’ family member, this would have been deemed acceptable in the eyes of the law, however, this law does not apply to family pets.
A decision to be tackled by forward-thinking businesses
So, the question we managers need to ask ourselves is, should we as compassionate human beings do the right thing by our employees and let them have time off to grieve for family members, whether they be human beings or pets?
Those of us who have lost pets know that the pain we experience can be overwhelming and I believe we need time to grieve for them and employers should show compassion here.
With this in mind, our policy at Get Set Pet is to offer a day of compassionate leave to any employees who have suffered the loss of a pet. It may take a small chunk out of our bottom line but hopefully our employees will recognise that we value their wellbeing outside of the workplace - just as much as within.