Employee sacked after death of her dog calls for change
18 year old Emma McNulty has launched a petition to demand the right for employees to take bereavement leave following her dismissal after the death of a family pet. Disgusted with her employer’s behaviour, Emma is now calling for employers to include the passing on of pets as a bereavement within their employment policies.
What does the Law say?
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, Employees have the right to unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving dependants which includes spouses, partners, children, grandchildren or parents. Bereavement is not specifically mentioned but would generally be treated as falling within this category but not, of course, in so far it relates to pets.
In May 2018 ACAS issued a good practice guide to managing bereavement in the workplace. This sets out best practice and outlines practical steps which employers should consider including the introduction. However, there remains no specific law on the matter of bereavement leave. Accordingly, there is no specific amount of days an employee is entitled to. Therefore, it remains entirely at the Employer’s discretion as to whether an employer grants paid or unpaid leave in a given situations.
Are changes afoot?
The Government is planning to introduce the right to 2 weeks paid leave for parents who lose a child under 18. This law is due to become effective as of 2020 however for the likes of Emma (and others enduring any form of bereavement), employees are completely at the whim of their employers who have the choice whether to grant bereavement leave at their discretion.
Emma has since added that she “thought her employer would show a bit of compassion”. Compassion is unfortunately again discretionary in this context. Emma has received a large showing of support in her campaign for bereavement leave following the death of a family pet. She now has gathered around 10,000 signatures in support of her petition. It will be interesting to see if this translates into further legislation on this delicate subject.
If you have any questions on your current employment policies or how to deal with bereavement issues of your employees, please contact Lauren Pickard at email@example.com or call Lauren on 0114 252 1410.