Salary, health care, paid time off for pet bereavement. Wait, what?
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
I don’t care how great you think your dog is: my dog Fudge was the greatest dog ever. He lived for almost 14 years and brought joy to everyone he met. When he died last February I was genuinely grief stricken. But…uh…I still went to work the next day. Doesn’t everyone?
Apparently not. Today, the death of a pet has become such a tragedy that some employers are offering their employees paid time off for the passing of a beloved pet. Yes, it’s pet bereavement leave. Welcome to 2016.
An expert in human resources said that many companies already allow employees to “quietly take vacation time or a personal day when a pet dies,” according to this report from San Francisco’s CBS Local. Some employers are now even including paid time off for pet bereavement as part of an employee’s benefit package. Tech firm VMware and a Boston based human resources firm both offer the benefit to their employees, as does a hotel group and (of course) a company that sells pet health insurance. Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t have a policy but says it would grant leaves if needed.
Employers are recognizing that losing a pet causes much emotional pain and loss of productivity for employees, the HR expert said. Data does back him up: a 2009 study found that nearly one-third of all people who lose a pet experience sadness and grief for six months and beyond.
Of course, the benefit also helps with recruiting. In this time of low unemployment, big companies are looking for any way to attract talented people. Offering this kind of perk gives them yet another weapon over their small business competitors who have less resources. Unfortunately, and as much as I would’ve loved some time off to grieve for Fudge (and offer the same to my people) I just can’t afford to do that. I’m betting there are many other small business owners in the same boat.
There is, however, one small business owner mentioned in the CBS report who’s certainly in favor of bereavement leave. It’s Phil C’de Baca, the owner of Pet’s Rest pet cemetery in Colma, Calif.