This month, Emma McNulty started a petition for the right to bereavement leave to be extended to pets. Ms McNulty, 18, was dismissed from a sandwich shop after stating she did not feel able to work following the death of her dog, who was 14.

Most employers only allow time off for immediate relatives, which often doesn’t extend to aunts, uncles or cousins let alone pets. This is in line with s57A Employment Rights Act 1996 which states employers should allow reasonable time off following the death of a dependant.

Depending on whether you are an animal lover or not will depend on your reaction to this story. Our view is that some family pets are a part of your life for anywhere between 10-20 years and a death would be upsetting. Most reasonable employers would try to accommodate such a loss, if possible, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere for example applying to dogs and cats but not hamsters.

From an operational efficiency point of view, grief impacts employee’s productivity and morale. This in turn can impact others who work in the same team. There can also be mental health implications and pet bereavement leave may be something we see taken up more often given the rise of mental first aid.