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Paid leave when your dog dies for UK workers? ‘We need time to mourn!’


Pet wellness experts, Itch, was inspired to push forward the policy following the high rise of pet adoptions during lockdown. Dog adoptions across the UK saw an increase by 14.7 per cent during 2020, with Watford ranked as the number one location with the most interest in taking on a pet in July 2021.

The policy encourages employers to give paid leave for employees if a pet dies, with nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of Brits agreeing their furry friend is a valued member of the family.

Robin Grey, Itch panellist, counsellor, psychotherapist and author of ‘Coping with Pet Loss’, says: “As humans, our experience of loss can be profound and touch us in ways that we did not expect. We may need time to mourn, and, in some cases, it can feel like we will never recover.

“For many of us, our pets are a valued member of the family and therefore the death of one can seem like one of the hardest losses.

“There is hope, though. By examining ourselves and our own grief, it is possible to see that this often-unpredictable loss can draw us closer to others that have shared the same experience.”

More than half (58 percent) of pet owners think that the death of a pet is just as hard to deal with as a human one, over one in 10 (13 percent) stated their employer showed no sympathy.

Itch says their campaign is inspired by the efforts of Emma McNulty, who was sacked from her job after calling in sick when her dog passed away in 2019.

This led her to petition for the introduction of pet bereavement leave, with Itch now on a mission to change people’s perceptions on pet deaths.

Currently, there is no legal requirement to give people time off when a pet dies, nearly three quarters of people in the UK think employers should have a policy in place.

Nearly half admitted they haven’t told an employer when their pet passed away, despite over two in five saying their pet means as much to them as their friends and family.

Those who tell their colleagues about their loss, nine per cent actively made fun of them or bullied them and six per cent even laughed at them during their time of need.

“I wholeheartedly support the action Itch is taking and I’m happy to introduce this policy for my staff, as I will always respect the feelings and needs of my employees when they face loss and I encourage other businesses to do likewise.”

Andrew Pinnington, CEO at Itch said: “Here at Itch, we know that pets are like family to our employees. Therefore, our benefits include paw-ternity leave when an employee gets a new pet, a gift for the new family member, birthday treats for pets and even time off to volunteer with pet-related charities.

“The death of a beloved pet can impact us in ways we are not prepared for, so we took action to include paid time off within our benefits.

“Now we are encouraging other businesses to implement pet bereavement policies within their workplaces, with the goal of helping facilitate sensitive conversations and ensuring that grieving employees feel as comfortable as possible.”

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