Pet Bereavement Leave May Be in Our Future · The Wildest

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Is Pet Bereavement Leave in Our Future?

More companies are considering how they can support grieving pet parents.

by Sio Hornbuckle
April 26, 2024
a person holding a dog collar
Solovyova / iStock

Experiencing the loss of a pet is devastating — and it’s made all the more complicated by the fact that there aren’t many tools available for mourning pet parents to help process their grief. As more and more workplaces are becoming pet-friendly and offering pet-inclusive perks like “pawternity leave” and pet insurance, a new benefit may be gaining popularity: pet bereavement leave. 

The desire for pet bereavement leave

Pets have been increasing in popularity for years now. According to a Forbes report, in the United States, 66 percent of households have at least one pet. Naturally, this increase has an impact on peoples’ work days. A study by LiveCareer found that 94 percent of people are supportive of having pets in the workplace, and 52 percent of job applicants consider pet-friendly policies to be an important consideration during the job search.

Employers have taken notice, and pet-related benefits have become integrated into many workplace policies. Many companies — including major players like Amazon and Google — allow pets at work. More and more employers are offering pet insurance in addition to human health insurance, too, including Hinge, Clif Bar, and Microsoft. 

But with all this new acknowledgment of pets in the workplace, pet bereavement leave remains a much rarer offering, despite the demand for it. One study found that companies that offer pet bereavement “have improved employee morale, retention rates, company loyalty, and less stress.”

It makes sense that pet bereavement leave makes a difference; pet grief is intense, complicated, and under-acknowledged. One study found that people grieving animals often feel levels of distress that are equal to those of people grieving human companions, but they’re more likely to experience disenfranchisement and embarrassment. Pet bereavement leave is one way companies can acknowledge the reality of pet parents’ grief and give them the much-needed time and space to mourn. 

The good news: Change may be on the horizon. At a conference in Los Angeles last year, executives from some of the top companies in the world, plus 100 audience members, gathered to discuss the importance of pet-related policies — including the possibility of pet bereavement leave. They discussed the fact that many millennials are choosing not to have kids, so caring for their pets is the very top priority.

“It’s a great way to signal to the new generation of workforce to show that you care about them beyond their job titles and that you understand that life outside of work impacts them at work,” Erika Sinner, CEO of Directorie and author of Pets Are Family , told Axios.

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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