Pet Bereavement Leave

somali cat sleeping isobel bella belle
Gratuitous cat picture
somali cat sleeping isobel bella belle

Gratuitous cat picture

I would be shattered if one of my cats died. But is it fair for workers to request pet bereavement leave or is it taking the culture of entitlement one step too far?

Recently a mining boss reacted to union demands for bereavement leave for the death of pets saying it was a ridiculous grounds for requesting leave and, in doing so, opening the can of worms as to whether or not employee should be entitled to claim bereavement leave in the case of the loss of their pet.

It’s a tricky subject as many people, myself included, would be absolutely devastated at the loss of a pet. Possibly even unable to go work. Absolutely shattered, and rocked to the core. However you don’t really want Bob taking off 20 days per year because he has 20 cats and they keep being eaten by coyotes (I know we don’t have coyotes here, but it’s a much better word than fox and kangaroos don’t historically go around eating cats).

But I’ve always felt a pet is a significant member of your family. They are like little furry children we adore and take care of, who never grow up or leave home. Anyone who has me on instagram, Twitter or Facebook knows how much I adore my cats as they’re flooded with a constant stream of pics of them.

But how far is too far when it comes to union claims? Lately my work has been embroiled in discontent as the union are getting nowhere with negotiating a new enterprise agreement. So much so there was a strike not long ago, which ended up making the news although the reason for the strike was interpreted to be more about the budget than the enterprise agreement negotiations. The main factor for this delay seems to be the union is fighting for better working conditions for employees, while the university is arguing we already have too much.

I can see both sides in this argument. With one of the best maternity leave schemes around, a generous number of sick days, the ability to take leave for cultural or religious reasons and a strong 9-to-5 culture with reasonable pay, we do have it pretty good. And yet there is an increasing tide in Australia expecting employees to work more for less, a ridiculous notion when you consider we have some of highest overtime rates, unpaid, of anywhere in the western world.

So would the addition of pet bereavement leave be taking all this a step too far? Probably. But I can tell you right now if one of my cats dies I will not be coming in to work that day.

What do you think? Should employees be entitled to pet bereavement leave?

  • Maryann

    I think pet breavement leave is taking entitlement a step too far. I only got 1 day’s breavement leave when my father died. I was lucky that I had annual leave to use.

    I feel you pain re enterprise agreement negitiations, we had 18 months of hell to get a new agreement.

    • Tamsin Howse

      It’s a pain, isn’t it? I think if the uni wants less and the union wants more, can we come to the middle and say it all stays the same?

  • Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie

    They talked about pet bereavement leave in our last EBA negotiations too, it didn’t happen though. There was a lot of discussion around whether only certain pets would qualify – eg could you take leave each time a fish died?! I think we are lucky enough to get sufficient annual leave/RDOs/carers leave etc that you could cobble together something if needed

    • Tamsin Howse

      A lot of the discussions on our facebook page have centred around pet bereavement leave as a form of mental health leave – as in, if your mental health is affected, then you claim it as sick leave, however if you weren’t attached to your pet then you wouldn’t bother.

  • Helsyd

    family bereavement leave hardly allows for the amount of time needed when a family member passes away – I’ve always thought it was a token entitlement. I certainly would not be going to work if something happened to my pets :( rather than leave there should be an acknowledgement that people may need to take time from work when a pet dies, whether paid or unpaid but without disadvantage