With the number of pets owned in the UK currently on the rise experts in pet health, Itch have launched a campaign that aims to convince employers to introduce an option for a pet-friendly leave policy to pet parents who are working.
Employers are encouraged and employers offer paid leave to employees when pets die. Itch has taken the necessary steps to make it easier for employers to comply with the policy, by offering an informative guide to employers on their site.
The campaign was an inspiration from the work by Emma McNulty, who in 2022 made headlines for her petition calling to introduce pet-bereavement time after being fired from her job due to making a sick call after her dog passed away.
Itch is taking over the reins and starting an effort to create changes across the country to ensure that pet owners are treated with respect the subject that is often misunderstood or even ridiculed.
Pet ownership in the UK is on the rise It’s evident the reasons why pets have become an upper rung of the line in the home of the family. A majority (74 percent) of Brits are of the opinion that their furry friend is a valuable pet, and nearly two-in-five (43 percent) say their pet is as important to them as their family members and friends.
As a country It’s also apparent that we’re experiencing a great loss when a pet we love passes to death, with more than half (58 percent) of people who own pets believing that the loss of a pet is just as difficult to bear as a human death.
While there isn’t any legal requirement for employers to provide the opportunity to take time off after a pet passes away, more than three quarters (74 percent) of the population in the UK believe that employers should have a policy in place to assist pet owners going through grieving.
About half (45 percent) didn’t tell their employer that their pet has passed in death, but for those who did, more than one-in-ten (13 percent) reported that their employer showed no compassion, while nine percent of them mocked their behavior or threatened them because of their grief, and 6 percent were even joking with them in their times of need.
Robin Grey, Itch panelist counselor, psychotherapist, counselor and the author of ‘Coping With Pets’, says: “As humans, our experiences with loss are often profound, and impact us in ways we never imagined. It is possible that we need time to grieve, and in certain situations it could feel like that we’ll never be able to recover.
“For most of us pets are considered a valuable member of our family and the loss of a pet can appear to be one of the most difficult grieving losses. However, there is hope. When we look at our personal grieving and how we cope it’s possible to realize that this loss, which is often unpredictable, will bring us closer to those who have experienced the same loss.”
Robin gives the following suggestions on how to deal in the aftermath of losing a loved pet:
- Be aware that no one will be able to comprehend the pain you’re experiencing
- Take your loss as significant and valid. It is important to grieve.
- Do not rush into purchasing an animal. Be patient until you’re ready.
- You might want to consider having a ceremony or remembrance of your pet to be a happy way to mark their contribution to you throughout their lives.
- If your loss is in conjunction with a major loss or life alteration, think about seeking assistance, including counseling or therapy.
Sapan Sehgal the founder of London Fields Fitness Studio, stated: “As a business owner and a large portion of my employees who have pets and owners of pets, I know how crucial it is to take care of their physical and emotional well-being and health, but also to be aware of their needs in relation to their pets.
“If one needs time to grieve, who am I to judge whether their grief and love for a pet isn’t as real as that of a human. I fully support the decision Itch has taken and I’m glad to implement this policy for my employees, since I’ll be a firm believer in the needs and feelings of my employees who suffer loss, and I urge other businesses to follow suit.”
Andrew Pinnington, CEO at Itch commented: “Here at Itch We understand the importance of pets as family for our employees. So, our benefits provide the right to take paw-ternity leave whenever employees get an animal of their own and a gift to the new member of the family as well as treats for birthdays of pets, and even the opportunity to help out with charities that deal with pets. The loss of a beloved pet can affect us in ways we’re unaware of, and so we decided to include paid time off in our benefits. Visit the Itch website for more details on how to implement an animal bereavement policy in your workplace, as well as for more information on dealing with the loss of your pet.