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Can you take time off work when a pet dies?

Olivia Petter
·3-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This week, actor Miranda Hart revealed that she would be taking some time off work after the death of her dog, Peggy.

Writing on Instagram, the 48-year-old explained: “I’m using this time to take some time away from work / posting to write and rest and see what the new chapter will be.”

The actor’s post has sparked a conversation around one’s legal rights when it comes to taking time off work due to the death of a pet.

There are allowances in other cases of loss, such as parental bereavement leave.

On Citizens Advice, it explains that in England, an employee has a right to take up to two weeks of parental bereavement leave if their child died on or after 6 April 2020 and the child was under the age of 18 or they were stillborn. This is thanks to a new law that came into place last year.

You don’t have to take this leave straight away if you don’t want to, but you must take all the leave within 56 weeks of your child’s death.

But do any allowances apply to pet bereavement? Here’s everything you need to know.

Can you take time off work after the death of a pet?

There is no legal obligation for an employer to offer you time off after the death of a pet. This also applies to family members and other loved ones, only with the exception of parental bereavement, thanks to the new law passed last year.

However, this does not mean you cannot necessarily take time off after losing a pet.

For example, some employers might allow for a specific period of time off in the wake of the death of a loved one or pet, and this could be outlined in your contract. Other companies will offer bereavement leave at your manager’s discretion.

Speaking to The Independent, Diane James, manager of the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service explains that it can be hugely beneficial for an employer to offer pet bereavement leave.

“We are contacted by over 14,000 devastated pet owners every year who are struggling to cope with the loss of their pet,” she said.

“We have been supporting grieving pet owners for over 25 years and we know how devastating the loss of a pet can be. The despair, grief and sadness owners feel when their pet dies can never be taken lightly as they are part of the family for many people, and for some their only family and source of companionship.

“We fully support understanding employers who offer bereavement leave to allow time for pet owners to come to terms with their loss.”

If you’re unsure whether or not your employer will allow you to take time off in the wake of a pet’s death, it’s best to check with your line manager.

What other support services are there for people who have lost their pets?

There are numerous support services on offer for those grieving a pet.

“Grieving for the loss of a pet, whether through death, parting or enforced separation, can be a sad and difficult experience,” Blue Cross’ website states.

“Life once filled with the love and friendship of a pet, may suddenly seem very empty and feelings of deep sadness and loneliness are not uncommon. We also offer emotional support to assistance dog users.”

Blue Cross offers a telephone support service that is open every day from 8.30am until 8.30pm. You can reach them for free on 0800 096 6606.

Alternatively, there are many specific support services that cater to the individual animal.

These include: Cats Protection, which runs a confidential phone line called Paws to Listen, for any cat owner suffering bereavement of a pet cat. For equine support, there’s The British Horse Society's “Friends at the End” service.

For more information on support after the loss of a pet, visit the RSPCA website here.

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Miranda Hart taking ‘time away from work’ after death of her dog