For many of us, our pets are an integral part of our family. Approximately 38.9 million households own cats and 43.3 million own dogs. In total, the U.S. owns an estimated 70 to 80 million dogs and 74 to 96 million cats in homes across the nation. Consequently, it’s surprising that, when our furry friends pass away, many employers and even our human colleagues fail to see the significant impact the loss can have on our lives.
Luckily, that attitude is starting to change, slowly but surely. Some employers are now offering pet bereavement leave for grieving owners who have recently lost their beloved animals. Bereavement leave can offer much-needed comfort during an emotionally devastating time for many owners.
Although it’s still a relatively new practice, adding the option of pet bereavement leave shows employees that their company cares about their well-being. It can also be a valuable recruitment tool for job candidates. Human resource experts are already seeing the positive effects of offering pet bereavement leave. Even if employees never have to use it, it shows the employer supports the worker during a time of need.
Among the companies who have recently added pet bereavement leave are VMware, Maxwell Health, Trupanion, and Klimpton Hotel Group. In addition, popular ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s has stated on previous occasions that they would allow their employees to receive time off for a pet’s death if they needed it.
Pets are like surrogate children for many pet parents, so being allowed to take time off to grieve their passing is welcome validation for many people. When a human family member dies, employees are allowed to take time off. Most pet parents feel the same policies should apply to their pet’s death. In fact, a 2009 study showed that nearly one-third of pet owners dealing with their pet’s death grieved for more than six months. Although the bereavement time off for a pet’s death would be rather brief in comparison, having the option can be of great solace for many.
Despite the fact that the number of employers who currently offer pet bereavement leave are few and far between, many pet owners would greatly benefit from their employers implementing this practice in the future. Our love for and connection with our animals is never questioned, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be allowed to mourn them properly, as we would with any other beloved member of the family.