For anyone who's lost a pet, the heartache is significant and can last a long time. Feelings of grief can cause mental distraction, loss of appetite, bouts of extreme sadness and even lasting depression. Why, then, are we expected to get back to work after the loss of a pet without being allowed to take time off?
For the majority of company employees, bereavement time is given solely for a death in the immediate family. But let's consider this for a minute. A dog or cat lives with us in our home. They greet us after work, are by our sides every evening and most of every weekend, and for many people, are the closest being they're connected to on a daily basis. Therefore, their death should be considered as a loss of an immediate family member, even if their status doesn't necessarily equate them to a human family member.
Those three days make a world of difference to someone in a state of grief.
The Canada Labour Code, states that bereavement leave entitlement applies when a member of an employee's immediate family dies. The employee is permitted to leave on any normal working day within the three-day period following the death. Of course, many companies offer the option to use sick days or personal days to extend a bereavement leave. Still, those three days make a world of difference to someone in a state of grief.
Thankfully, a few companies are starting to recognize pets as members of the family and are flexible with bereavement days. Canadian company Shoppers Drug Mart is one of the first to do so, which is an exciting step in the right direction and comes on the heels of some major companies in the U.S. According to CBS News, those companies include pet insurance provider Trupanion, Maxwell Health and software company VM Ware.
Many people may not understand that losing a pet is a terribly sad experience if they've never been close with a pet in their lives.
Still, people who take bereavement days for the loss of a pet may be met with harsh stigma around their grief. Many people may not understand that losing a pet is a terribly sad experience if they've never been close with a pet in their lives. Steps need to be taken to educate individuals in the workplace of the different ways in which people cope with loss and the levels of closeness some people feel with their pets.
We sincerely hope that more organizations follow the steps taken by forward-thinking companies and offer paid leave for those struggling with the loss of a pet. After all, wouldn't we all rather work with a well-rested, emotionally recuperated colleague, than one distracted with the grief of losing a family member -- even if that family member was four-legged and furry?
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