employee wants bereavement leave for her dog, costume contest fundraiser, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Employee wants bereavement leave for her dog

I manage a team of 10 people. Our company provides my team with 120 hours of annual PTO. Separate from that, we provide 40 hours of bereavement for an immediate family member and 20 hours of bereavement for a peripheral relationship. One of my employees requested immediate family member bereavement for the death of her dog. The policy does not specify a human. I responded that I am very sorry for her loss, but nobody has requested this for a pet before so I need to look into it. In the meantime, I advised her to take PTO for the rest of this week (about 25 hours). My boss suggested giving her this week under bereavement but not the full 40 hours. He is speaking to legal about changing the policy to specify a human death. I communicated this to my employee and she countered that her relationship to her dog fits our definition of immediate family so she is entitled to 15 more hours of PTO. She has 48 hours of PTO left for the year, so I believe she is mostly fighting this out of grief and principle. Where do I go from here?

Bereavement leave isn’t generally intended to be enough time for someone to do all of their grieving — it would need to be many months longer if so  — but rather as time to deal with logistics around a death, like organizing and attending a funeral.

It’s reasonable to say the policy applies to human family members. Most people understand that as implicit in these types of policies even though it’s not typically spelled out (in fact, I can’t recall seeing one that specifies “humans” although that’s what they all meant). You’re doing a kind thing by giving her the 25 hours that week as bereavement leave, and it’s reasonable to hold firm on not adding an additional 15. I’d tell her she can take more of her accrued PTO if she needs it, and you’ll clarify the wording in the policy so that it doesn’t cause any confusion going forward.

For the record: I love animals! I consider mine part of my family. I support taking PTO if you need it when an animal dies. If an employer wants to offer bereavement leave for pets, I support that too! But that’s not how most bereavement policies work, it’s clearly not what you’ve offered to other employees, and it’s not unreasonable to continue to say that this particular pot of leave only applies to humans but there are other leave types available to use.

Read an update to this letter here

2. I’m attracted to my team lead — and he’s leaving

I went through a break-up at the start of this year, and am starting to look at dating again. There is, however, a slight hiccup. One of the guys who has caught my eye is someone I work with. And he is my team lead.

I know there can be a huge power imbalance if you date a boss/someone whose boss you are. However, I started this job at the start of October, and he is already leaving now on Friday.

We haven’t interacted much, but in times we have I have picked up what I thought are subtle hints (though I might be totally misreading them.) When we are in groups together, he will hold my gaze, or look mainly my way while we are talking, even if someone else asked the question. As he left work today, I could swear I saw him wink as he said goodbye. These could be signs I’ve totally misinterpreted, though.

From snatched conversation, I’m pretty sure he is single. I don’t know if asking him for a drink or so is a bad idea, if I should, if I do then how.

Those signs aren’t a lot to go on! I’d pay more attention to stuff like whether you have rapport/chemistry/banter.

If he weren’t leaving, this would be 100% a no-go since he’s in your chain of command, but since he’s leaving, you have an opportunity to make an overture. When he’s leaving (or afterwards), tell him you’d love to stay in touch and get coffee or a drink sometime. That gives him an opening to express reciprocal interest in hanging out if he’d like to, but it doesn’t create any real pressure for him to follow up if he’s not feeling it.

3. Is this upcoming webinar about parental leave benefits a trap?

I’m a cisgender woman who would, in ideal circumstances, like to be pregnant soon. I work for a large university. Our HR department holds regular webinars on a variety of topics, including ones that offer a deep dive on some of our benefits. They’ve recently announced a series of webinars about parental leave benefits (it’s been branded as a “virtual baby shower”) and they’re encouraging both expectant and new parents as well as “employees who are planning a family” to attend. Advance registration with a work email address is required to attend.

I’m not a parent yet but I hope to be in the not-too-distant future, so I’d definitely be interested in learning more about the various processes involved in requesting leave, FSAs, lactation support, and so forth. But is this a trap? On one hand, I think it’s unlikely that someone from HR is going to ping my supervisor with a heads-up that I might be having a baby soon. On the other hand, I’m nervous about doing anything that signals in advance my intentions to become a parent. I’ve always been careful to avoid mentioning my reproductive intentions at work, both because I know the reality of discrimination against pregnant people and mothers, and because it’s none of my coworkers’ business. It feels weird to out myself as a prospective parent to HR.

I think my anxiety is compounded by the fact that I’m a relatively new employee (I’ve been in my position for less than a year). I’m also the only woman on a small team of men who are not parents, so it’s been hard to gauge what their reaction will be if I do announce a pregnancy and maternity leave. I don’t want to assume the worst of the university or my colleagues, but I don’t want to be naive, either.

It’s unlikely to be a trap! They’re just offering a session on something relevant to people, just like if it were a session on retirement planning or using an HSA, without realizing it might make people wary. Of course, it not being intended as a trap doesn’t mean that it couldn’t end up affecting you in some way, like if registration generates an automatic confirmation to your calendar that other people see. That might result in no problems whatsoever, but it’s understandable not to want to take the risk.

You could point out the person organizing it that this is a topic where people might feel uneasy broadcasting their intentions to their employer and ask if they’d be willing to let people attend without registering.

4. Costume contest fundraiser

My office (a nonprofit charity) has an annual costume contest. This year, our CEO made an executive decision to attach a fundraising component for another local charity. Regardless of whether you participate, you are asked to throw in some money. The rules were “donate if you don’t wear a costume, donate for every vote you cast in the contest,” etc. It’s not a huge deal and she made it clear that you can donate anything from $1-$10 for each category, but it didn’t sit well with me that she made that decision without input from her staff, especially when her staff also works for a charity. Am I overreacting?

As long as you can opt out completely, I’m not too bothered. The “donate if you don’t wear a costume” part seems potentially problematic (if it means you can’t opt out), but as long as you could say, “Sorry, it’s not in my budget right now” and have that respected, this sounds like a pretty typical way to attach a charitable component to an office social activity. It would be better if they’d made it explicitly clear that you could opt out, but it doesn’t sound outrageous.

5. Should I send a thank-you gift to a manager who recommended me for a job?

I applied for a position at a very large organization in my area. I got to the very end of the hiring process, but ultimately another candidate was chosen. No hard feelings! The hiring manager let me know that their department would be posting more open positions in the future and that I should keep an eye out.

My assumption was just the typical “thanks but no thanks” until she reached out to me a few weeks later telling me about an open position in another division within the organization that she thought I might be interested in applying for. She said that if I sent in my application, she would make sure that it got to the hiring manager.

I have had two interviews for that position and I am currently waiting on their decision. If I get the job or if I don’t, I am still so, so grateful to the manager who not only reached out to me about a position but also made sure that my resume got noticed. That was thoughtful and unnecessary. I guess it means that I might have been their second choice, which makes me happy even if I didn’t end up getting that position. This is a prestigious organization and it still tickles me that I’m getting interviews here.

Even if I don’t get the job, would it be appropriate to send some small gift to her? An edible arrangement? Or maybe just an expensive thank-you card? I don’t know how much of this was her pull and how much was my showing, but I think she deserves my thanks for going so far out of her way for me.

Definitely don’t send a gift. That would make the referral seem transactional, or like she had done something you clearly didn’t deserve. I would be really uncomfortable in her shoes if you sent me a gift!

She recommended you because she thought you would be a good candidate and that would be good for her employer; it wasn’t a favor to you, even though you’re grateful for it. Even a thank-you card would be a little over-the-top in this situation, but an emailed note thanking her for thinking of you would strike the right chord.

{ 786 comments… read them below }

  1. Plebeian Aristocracy*

    I get the feeling that your answer to Letter #1 is going to be pretty divisive. I’m not going to argue one way or another (I do think that pets are as family as humans, but I also haven’t thought of bereavement leave as something for dealing with the aftermath of death instead of starting to grapple with the emotions around it), but this could well be one of your most polarizing answers this month.

    1. RT*


      In my culture, pets are you know, nice, we love them, but don’t quite consider them “part of the family.” I’ll be sad when my family dog passes (and she’s definitely getting on), maybe even take a personal day, I’ll miss her, but we need to get back to our own lives and that’ll be really it.

      Not saying that’s THE right way to go! My point is that this is one of those things that varies culture to culture and even person to person. I think Americans (I’m assuming the LW is American but maybe I’m wrong) tend to be very close to their pets.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I don’t think so. As an American, Alison’s answer should be completely uncontroversial and expected. There’s certainly some commenters with an unusual attachment to their pets. That’s not a cross section of Americans in general.

        I love my cats. They’re happy, spoiled, sleep on the bed and have more toys/enrichment/scratching posts than you can shake a stick at. I don’t tell my father how much I spend on their quality food because he doesn’t like pets and sees that expense as silly. But the grief I felt at saying goodbye to my 18 year old cat (after a long decline with many vet appointments; I’d had him the majority of my life) wasn’t comparable to the loss of my grandmother, uncle, and other humans I love.

        1. Despachito*

          Although we do love our pets dearly and their death certainly is painful, and we do consider them members of the family in a way, it seems a bit odd to me to put them officially at the level of human family members, and to insist on applying the employer’s policy for humans. Perhaps this is what strikes me as the most unreasonable thing (that the employee acts as if she was ENTITLED to that leave)

          I understand that in particular circumstances (the employee was very attached to her dog, and she has only little PTO left) it would be kind from the employer to cut her some slack, and if possible, let her have some time off. But if she already got 20 hours, I’d consider it to be more than sufficient, and anyway it should be treated very differently by the employee, and if she put it like “I am of course entitled to that leave because Fluffy was a member of my family” , I very much understand why it rubs the wrong way.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah. I remember an intern calling to say she wasn’t coming in because her guinea pig just died, leaving me to deal with everything on my own (and she knew there was lots to deal with). Guinea pigs don’t live very long, and people often have several, so a policy of bereavement leave for pets would mean someone like my BFF who has minimum two guinea pigs with no set maximum would be getting that leave once or twice a year.
            If this woman has literally no family, no parents children or siblings, I can understand her being very close to her dog.
            I love my cat and dog to the stars and back.
            But still, I think demanding bereavement leave for a pet would be an insult to the love I have for my partner and children.

            1. Despachito*

              We also have guinea pigs, and the day one of them died I was quite devastated, and my daughter even more so, and to console her, I had to help bury the guinea pig (which took us several hours).

              So I understand that your intern did not turn up that very day, and if it happens once in several years, I’d be inclined to compassion even if it meant more work for me the one day (I’d think one day in several years is not such a big deal).

              However, I understand that should this happen too often it can be overwhelming, and I am with you on that one.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                But the trouble is, where do you draw the line? We had about 20 different fish in our tank at one point.

                1. Pool Lounger*

                  Most places only give you so much paid time, no matter how many family members die. You may lose three people but you still only get whatever the max leave is. It’d be the same with fish.

              2. Aitch Arr*

                so give PTO. The question is not “does the person get time off to deal with the death of a pet,” it’s “does the person get Bereavement Leave to deal with the death of a pet”.

                I firmly come down on yes for the first and no for the second.

            2. Rachel Morgan*

              Guinea pigs, when taken care of properly, live 4-8 years. About the average lifespan of a giant dog (mastiff, great dane etc). That’s not a short life.

              Rats? Those have a short life of just 2 years. Same thing with mice.

                1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                  100% true, but I feel like they were responding to the person who made it sound like you could lose multiple guinea pigs in one year/in consecutive years, instead of at a wide distance.

              1. QueenOfTheWorld*

                My mastiff mix is almost 11 years old now. She’s one of my babies. I’ll be sad for sure when she dies but would it go to the extent that I would ask my boss for bereavement leave? No. That’s what personal time is for. Just like I wouldn’t ask for maternity leave when I adopt a new dog. Personal time. It’s what it’s for.

              2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                My friend only takes rescue pets so that may explain the higher death rate. But no matter how long they live, if you have six of different ages, deaths will be a regular occurrence

            3. Don't Forget To Mute The Zoom*

              Why is one person’s grief an insult to the love you have for someone? This isn’t a zero sum game and it is gross to demean someone’s loss because you feel like your loss is more important

            4. LisaD*

              I don’t understand why your partner or children would be insulted by your hypothetically deeply loving and deeply mourning a pet. If my partner or parent grieved deeply for a pet I would be pleased with myself for having someone in my life who loves intensely and is not afraid to show their emotions in the face of a loss. There’s not some sort of lifetime limit on giving love or on grieving that you can reach and have none left for human beings.

          2. Lacey*

            Yeah, I love my dog and I’ll certainly take personal time when he dies (hopefully many years from now) but I wouldn’t expect bereavement time for it.

            In part because that’s not time to grieve, it’s time to attend a funeral or make arrangements or what-have-you.

            1. Corrvin (they/them)*

              Agreed– Best Cat was an absolutely fundamental part of my life and I miss him quite frequently. However, he had no outstanding debts or financial details to settle, he owned no property, he filed no taxes, and informing his friends was fairly simple (covered by a couple of phone calls and a Facebook post).

              Maybe if we had a better framework in our society for acknowledging and dealing with grief, we’d all have a better time of it than expecting people to do their grieving in private and come back acting fine.

            2. A Genuine Scientician*


              I will be much more sad when my cats die than I was when my grandparents died. (My cats are part of my daily life; my grandparents decided they were done being grandparents before my brother and I were born. They fawned over the eldest grandchildren, were slightly aloof from the middle set, and ignored the youngest set.) I don’t have kids and likely never will. But the death of these cats is simply not the same at all from a practical standpoint as the death of a parent/spouse/sibling/child. Maybe an hour of logistics, but probably less than that. I’m actually *still* dealing with logistics of my brother’s death roughly 2 years later — dying intestate, with a police investigation, only shortly before the pandemic shut everything down has meant everything backs up interminably.

              I’m definitely in favor of being flexible about letting people use personal leave — or even 1-2 days of sick leave, depending on how that’s counted in your organization — to deal with the loss of a pet. But bereavement leave is simply not there for because of the grief.

              That being said, based on some of the comments, I wouldn’t object to an organization giving a day of bereavement leave for dealing with the death of a horse. Sounds like that one is much more logistically involved than more typical pets; combined with their longevity, that doesn’t seem likely to be abused. A manager should certainly feel free to tell someone to take the rest of the day off if they get bad news about a pet. But it’s very strange to me to have someone feel entitled to 40 hours of bereavement leave for a pet. Especially when so many organizations only offer 3 days for immediate family.

            3. Freya*


              Our neo died of complications of old age 1 year and 47 weeks ago, and we were fortunate that we could schedule her final vet visit for a Saturday. My boss would have given me the day off in a heartbeat and just asked that I let her know if there was anything essential that she’d need to take over for me, but my husband might have faced some backlash given we got married only a short time prior.

              All this is to say: time off to deal with the logistics, yes. But the logistics for non-humans are nowhere near as complicated as the logistics for humans. And also, employees should have enough personal and annual leave that they can afford to take PTO if they can’t work in these situations, and employers should strive to have enough employees to cover that PTO so that employees feel able to take it.

          3. dh*

            i felt more grief at the loss of my cat than i did at the loss of my mother. The reason being i spent more time with my cat than i did with my mother (and had no relationship with her). You’re assuming people feel the loss of a person more than the loss of a pet because you assume everyone has a good relationship with their family.
            ‘it seems odd to me to me to put them officially at the level of human family members…’
            That may be how you feel but there are plenty of people out there who value their relationships with their pets far more and above their relationships with their families

            1. Despachito*

              I perfectly understand that you can grieve more the death of a beloved pet than that of an estranged relative.

              But by “putting them officially at the level of human family members…” I was not referring to the feelings (which are not measurable and it would be absurd to do so), but purely to the technical part – “you are entitled to X time off if your immediate family member dies”, and there is a generally accepted definition that “immediate family” is a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or sibling , it would be a bit strange to add “a horse, dog, cat, fish or another kind of animal you consider to be a member of your family”.

              I absolutely think we should be compassionate to each other as much as possible, and that the person mourning the death of their animal companion certainly deserves to be able to take some time off, I would just be wary of wielding the “legal entitlement” in this particular case.

          1. Yep*

            Ugh. Editing to add. By “the grief was very similar” I mean that the levels of grief for each were similar. I’m glad (?) that the loss of your dog did not match the loss of your grandmother, but that was not my experience at all. And my grandmother and I were very, very good friends and I saw both my dog and my grandmother through to the bitter end.

          2. HoHumDrum*

            Yeah, this is why I hate this game. I personally have experienced very few emotions in my life that are easily quantifiable and grief is one of the more complex ones.

            When my grandma died she was very elderly and in pain and missed her deceased husband. I was sad to see her go but also happy for her because I knew she was done with her time on earth. It was not hard to be back at work shortly after, and the real grief comes at surprise moments now years later when I think of something I wish I could tell her or ask her. But her death was gentle and she deserved to get her rest, and truthfully I did not grieve all that deeply knowing she was at peace.

            When my 6 year old cat I raised from kittenhood very suddenly was in distress and required thousands of dollars of care to survive. After going into debt and a long weekend of desperation I had to put him down simply because I did not have the money. He was terrified and in pain the whole time, just miserable. It’s possible things I did may have changed his outcome. His death was deeply, deeply painful. It literally traumatized me- I have intense anxiety around certain things with my surviving cats and am absolutely terrified of it happening again. That experience was just awful, and has negatively impacted my life to this day in some really painful ways.

            I have no idea how I ought to compare those two experiences. It’s a lot more complicated than human vs cat, in my mind. Which is why that conversation is entirely unnecessary and just makes people dealing with pet or human grief feel angry and negated. The policy as stated does not include pet bereavement, that’s fine. LW can convey that to her employee. Whether every commenter here has an opinion on whether the employee is allowed to ask is not needed. Debating about what grief is valid is not needed.

            1. Could Have Been Me*

              I could written this exact comment about losing my 6 year old cat. It was a few days of extreme expense and then anguish that I couldn’t afford to do what was necessary for him to survive, and 3 years later I still feel extreme guilt over it. My colleagues were understanding and gave me off the day we had to say goodbye and the day after. I would not have been functional.

            2. Pool Lounger*

              This was my experience too. When my grandparents died they were very old, it was not unexpected, and everyone was as prepared for it as could be. Sad, but not traumatic. When the first cat my partner and I had together got cancer it was unexpected, drawn out, and traumatic, and I also have anxiety around things with my other cats now. Years later I still feel guilt and sadness about her death, and wonder what I could have done differently. I don’t feel anything like that about my grandparents. Grief is different for different people, and I don’t judge anyone’s grief.

            3. WantonSeedStitch*

              Right. Every loss is different, and all grief is valid. Bereavement leave isn’t about how loss effects us emotionally, it’s about giving us the time we need to deal with the logistics and rituals of death. Personally, *if* I had the leeway to make that decision, I would be happy to grant an employee a day of bereavement leave to bring a pet to be euthanized, and to figure out what to do with that pet’s remaining food, toys, bedding, etc. But if someone requires time off for emotional processing of a loss–be it human or pet–I don’t think it’s unreasonable for that to come out of their PTO.

              1. Blarb*

                +1 to all of these. Like most people, I’ve been through a variety of traumatic experiences. Sometimes second-hand trauma is more destabilizing than first-hand. Sometimes you cope better than you expected. Grief is consistent only in its unpredictability, and there are as many ways to be anguished as there are people. In retrospect, the experiences that really kneecapped me in terms of being able to cope with work were not necessarily the ones I would have expected.

            4. Falling Diphthong*

              This is well expressed.

              I still get hit with waves of missing one dog, who went from “a bit stiff lately” to “the merciful thing is to put him down” in a few days. My parents’ long-anticipated deaths in hospice landed more gently.

              The logistics of whether I needed to travel and deal with banks and property was very different between the two types of death, and that is what the bereavement leave is for.

            5. FoxyDog*

              Being able to mentally prepare for a loss makes a difference. I lost my 13 year old dog last year. I watched her decline for several months; she still had good quality of life but I knew that at some point soon it would be time. That time spent coming to terms with it before it happened helped. I was still gutted when she died, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In a way, it was a relief from the months spent thinking about it.

              I now have a puppy, and when he got sick a few months ago I was a wreck. Losing him suddenly at such a young age would destroy me.

          3. kitryan*

            Yes, in a very real way, my cat’s death (quite recently) has been harder than losing my grandparents. Not only was I present for every setback and painful event on the way, as well as the death itself, I had to make all the decisions for her, which adds a layer of responsibility/guilt that isn’t *usually* part of the equation for people. Also, she was a full part of my daily routine and we shared our living space, so there are constant reminders of her absence throughout the day, in a way that would not be true for any of my immediate family, as they all live in their own homes and I only see them perhaps once or twice a month.
            But I do agree that Alison is right and the bereavement leave is for getting a start on dealing with their affairs, which responsibility is less time consuming for a pet. If bereavement leave were for getting all your grieving done, how on earth would you calculate that?!

        2. Butterfly Counter*

          I agree even though I’m a person who has probably a bit of an unusual attachment to my pets. I am an American who LOVES my animals. I previously lost a dog I raised from puppyhood and it gutted me. I will be similarly devastated whenever it’s time for my current pets to pass on. But besides needing a day or two for things to become less raw and I’m not randomly crying at work, I can’t imagine just sitting around and mourning my little loves for days on end. Unlike with people, there’s nothing to really DO. My family isn’t going to come it for a funeral. I don’t need to go through papers, make appointments, cancel so many things, or even really do any traveling.

          Everyone mourns differently, I know. But even as a crazy dog lady, I can’t imagine it strongly affecting my work life to a large degree.

          1. BelleMorte*

            I don’t think it’s unusual. I have a friend who has recently lost their 25-year-old cat. That cat has been with them nearly their entire life so to say that the attachment is insignificant is ridiculous. I know that when my pets pass, I am a complete mess and it’s a really long time before I stop spontaneously tearing up. I once had to go into work the same day I put down a beloved cat suddenly and traumatically, and I literally could not stop randomly sobbing and my boss had zero compassion, and made several comments about how stupid I was which made things so much worse. Let me say right now, if that particular human had died, I wouldn’t have grieved him anywhere near as hard as I grieved my cat.

            People who are grieving or traumatized for whatever reason do not do their best work, it’s better to give them a day or two off to process, and then they will be in a better mindset to focus on work. Trauma is trauma, your brain isn’t going to differentiate.

          2. curiousLemur*

            “besides needing a day or two for things to become less raw and I’m not randomly crying at work, I can’t imagine just sitting around and mourning my little loves for days on end. Unlike with people, there’s nothing to really DO. ” Yes, this. Last time one of my kitties passed away, I was sad for a long time. However, I think getting backed to work helped since it gave me something else to think about.

            1. kitryan*

              Yes – I had to choose to end my cat’s life (based on the progress of her terminal illness), so it was *somewhat* scheduled and I purposely did not request off the next day, as I wanted the distraction and to be out of the house. Then I spent the weekend at my parents’ house – I’d not been able to visit them overnight for some time due to pet health and medication issues and getting away from all the reminders of her for a couple days gave things time to be a little less raw.
              It was all about distractions for the first 4 days or so. But everyone grieves (pet and human loved ones both) in their own way. I wouldn’t think less of anyone taking a day or two of PTO instead.

        3. Here we go again*

          In the US 3 days off bereavement is all a person gets when a spouse, parent or child dies. Which is nowhere near enough time to sort out logistics, especially if your next of kin, or become functional enough to work.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            Your comment is too general. In the US, bereavement leave polices are set by individual employers or collective bargaining agreements.

            1. Here we go again*

              Maybe some employers offer more or less than that. But the couple of places that offered it only gave three days.

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                That’s cold. Even the place I worked retail at years back offered up to 40hrs depending on how far you had to travel.

        4. Kate 2*

          Americans spend more on their pets than on their children. I disagree that the commenters you mention are unusual and not representative.

          1. A.P.*

            This is certainly not true.

            Haven’t we learned by now to not take the things one reads on Facebook at face value?

            1. Pescadero*

              I’m not so sure it isn’t true.

              There are more than 2x as many pets in the USA as children. Per individual expenditures are almost certainly lower – but total expenditures? With 2x as many pets?

              1. Littorally*

                I have had several cats and even adding them all together they have not cost nearly as much as raising one human child. You’re talking an average expenditure in six figures over the first 18 years of a child’s life — and that’s not counting college!

                1. Here we go again*

                  Please monthly I spend easily $1000 a month on raising my son. I spend under $100 on my two dogs and maybe $50 on a dozen chickens in a month.

          2. Here we go again*

            What are you talking about? Daycare is expensive, health insurance, food & clothing. I love my dogs but the good dog food at Costco is still cheaper than baby formula and diapers. Vet bills are still cheaper than a years worth of health insurance for my child. If one of my dogs died I’d need a day or two to be functional and I’d always miss them. But My life would be ruined if the unthinkable happened to my child. I lost a parent and there’s a lot of work that surviving family needs to do after the funeral that sometimes requires weeks off.
            But logistically you don’t need to notify social security, cancel utilities, notify the bank, sell their car or home sort through a house hold’s worth of personal effects when a pet dies.

          3. rototiller*

            Where does that factoid come from? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, that’s not the case at all. In 2020, Americans spent an average of $690 on pets; children’s clothes, toys, and childcare alone averaged $778 in total. For a more normal year, in 2019 it was $681 for pets and $934 for those categories of child spending.

            Also worth noting that 70-75% of pet spending goes to food and medical expenses, neither of which the survey reports on for kids specifically. So we’re probably excluding the largest categories of spending on children.

            1. PT*

              I concur. My cats go to a fairly pricey vet and their vet checkup is significantly cheaper than what my primary care doc charges. Our people health insurance premiums are relatively high; we just keep a savings account for cat care. Their dinner is 30 cents a serving. Their flea/heartworm meds are about the price of a human prescription per month. Kitty litter is WAY cheaper than diapers. And most importantly, when I leave the house, I can leave them home alone with a bowl of kibble and a bowl of water and no one calls the police on me.

            2. Sashasoo*

              Where I live, safe childcare is $1,500-$2,000 a month. Then you spend more on food, clothes, activities, etc. I don’t spend anything close to that per month on my pets.

          4. bookworm*

            If you mean that younger Americans are spending money on pets because they can’t afford the expenses of children… then yes. But that’s a sign of how expensive childcare is relative to pet care here, not the other way around.

          5. Anonymeece*

            I’d like to see a source for that. Daycare alone is over $1000 per month where I live. Even if I bought my kitties a gold-plated litter box, I doubt the overall expense is going to come out in their favor.

          6. Just Another Zebra*

            I don’t think that’s true at all. I have 1 child in Preschool, 2 cats, a dog, a pig, and 3 chickens. I spend roughly the same on my child as I do on ALL the critters. Mine experience is, of course, anecdotal, but it seems to be true for those in my area.

          7. NotAnotherManager!*

            What? I have very spoiled pets who require special (expensive) food for medical reasons and one the year when we lost one pet to a terminal illness and other had a serious injury (hello specialty vet x2 – we call it “the year we paid for daycare for the cats”)… and my children are still FAR more expensive, especially in the daycare years.

            I have a budgeting app that goes back years, and we have never, ever spent more on our pets than our children, even when the pets outnumbered the children. I could get a dozen more pets for the cost of one child.

        5. anonks*

          You must be lucky to have that many humans that you love, and that love you. For a lot of us, our pets aren’t just additions to our humans- they’re alternatives.

          I would agree that pet deaths don’t require the logistics that human ones do, but the pain can be just as much, particularly if you don’t have human family. Your experience is no more representative of Americans than any of ours is.

        6. Just Jane*

          I was involved in leave administration for part of my career as well as interpreting various benefit policies for managers and employees. The OP’s policy on bereavement is lacking because it does not define the term “immediate family”, leaving open to the employee’s interpretation in this case. The policy need clarification and the updated section of the employee handbook shoukd be provided to all employees quickly. Since defining immediate family for bereavment leave should have been included as an HR best practice (I have never seen it omitted) , something tells me that thethere may be other policies in the handbook that have unintended loopholes. A thorough review and revision of the handbook by a qualified person followed by legal counsel review might be a good move for this organization.

        7. Mish@migo33*

          Yeah but this is why blanket policies like bereavement are B.S. to me. Your grief may have been greater for a grandparent or aunt or whom ever than for a pet, but that’s not everyone’s experience. If you had me name the 5 deaths that would affect me the most from people
          In my life, I’d only be entitled to bereavement for one of them (my mother). I’m not close with family. At all. But I have a best friend of 25 years and if they were to pass, I don’t think I’d function for weeks. And I can tell you from personal experience that when both my grandfather and father passed away a couple of months ago, I really didn’t care, but still often cry about my dog that died 3 years ago. I also have been with my boyfriend for 12 years, but since we’re not married, I’d get no bereavement time for him.

          Everyone is different. Bereavement policies bother me a lot because they essentially dictate who you’re expected to grieve. My companies bereavement policies say to me that no one in my life is worth grieving and even suggest some shame that I may not grieve some relatives.

        8. Wendy Darling*

          On the other hand I was devastated by the recent loss of my dog but basically unaffected by the passing of my grandmother, who I had never been close to because she was a jerk and who for the last 15 years had dementia (so she was a jerk who also couldn’t remember who I was). I didn’t even need time off to go to the funeral because the funeral was out of state during a COVID surge so I didn’t go.

          I’m not saying I think pets are comparable to human family but I am saying that bereavement leave as it exists at most companies is a pretty poor approximation of what deaths are actually going to impact someone. My beloved dog dying was way harder for me than a relative I never spoke to dying. There are tons of people who don’t have relationships with their legal parents but were raised by non-relatives they’re very close to. I know plenty of people who are estranged from their families of origin but have “found families” of basically very close friends.

          Bereavement leave as it is prioritizes the nuclear family in a way that’s very 1950s, which is really shitty because it ends up basically coming off like your workplace accepting or denying the validity of your loss, and the people who get invalidated are frequently going to be people who are also disadvantaged at work in a lot of other ways. Nothing like getting kicked when you’re down by an out-of-touch workplace policy!

      2. Whimsical Gadfly*

        Honestly as an American I’m still just in shock over a place that has any extra paid bereavement time, let alone 40 hours for immediate family and 25 for more extended connections. I recall I got 3 unpaid days when my dad passed…

        1. Lady Glittersparkles*

          Same, my current employer and every employer before it offered 3 days regardless of how close the person was to you.

          1. Lady Glittersparkles*

            Oops I misread your post, I meant 3 paid days. 3 unpaid days for your dad is terrible!

        2. ThatGirl*

          My last few companies have had paid bereavement leave, but it’s much shorter – 3 days for immediate family, 1 for extended. It was helpful when my grandparents died, to be able to go to the funerals more easily.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            My job doesn’t determine the length bereavement leave by the closeness of the relationship. We go by geography. You get three days of the funeral is being held locally, and five days if you have to travel out of state.

            If the purpose of bereavement leave is to attend the funeral, I think it makes sense to consider the amount of time it will actually take you to do that.

            1. Worldwalker*

              The closeness element is probably because it’s expected that immediate family will be the ones organizing the funeral, contacting everyone who needs to be contacted, and handling the other logistics; for more distant relations, they generally only attend the funeral.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                Sure, but geography matters too. When dad died very suddenly, his brother lived two states away and couldn’t afford a last minute plane ticket, so it took two days for him to drive here and two days to drive back.

                1. It's Growing!*

                  When we talk about how far away things are by “out of state” or “two states away,” it’s very hard to judge the distance under discussion. If you drive from one end of my state to the other it takes at least 14 hours, more if traffic is bad through any or all of the three major cities between A and B. If one starts in one of the small east coast states, it’s a whole other situation. Sometimes “out of state” is literally next door or across the river. Just musing.

                2. PT*

                  It’s Growing is right. San Diego CA to Seattle WA is two states away just as Portland ME to Boston MA is two states away. It takes longer to fly from San Diego to Seattle than it does to drive from Portland ME to Boston.

          2. marvin the paranoid android*

            I didn’t get any paid bereavement leave at all, although I was able to take some unpaid time off once I burned through my PTO. I think bereavement leave is a bit of a weird and inconsistent thing at the best of times. There is something chillingly bureaucratic about assigning amounts of time to family members’ lives based on how close the connection is.

          3. Drago Cucina*

            At previous employer we had a policy that also had separate amounts based on immediate family vs. extended. There was an exception for someone, such as an aunt or uncle, that the employee was exceptionally close to.

            I also had a staff member who was in a polyamorous relationship; someone who didn’t family in the area, but a friend who was like a sister; someone whose dog was like her child. I asked everyone who was asking for that relationship to write a formal letter identifying the person. We had them added to their personnel files. That way when it came up the relationship was documented. I had a very well written letter from the person with the dog. It went in her file.

            When a board member tried to push back I was able to show this wasn’t a whim, or just feeling bad, but a documented relationship.

        3. WantonSeedStitch*

          I’m in the U.S., and my workplace gives us up to five days of paid leave for any family member (including extended family, in-laws, etc.), but more can be negotiated if management and HR approve.

        4. Allison*

          At my work it is specific on which family members you get bereavement pay, otherwise you use PTO. My parents have been gone 20 years. They died when I was in my 30’s. I have been very close to my aunt since their passing but had to use PTO when she died because she wasn’t a covered family member.

        5. The Rural Juror*

          I was working in a pretty toxic environment when my grandparents (my mother’s parents) passed away within a few weeks of each other (they were in a care facility together). I took time after both deaths to travel there and help my mother make arrangements. It was towards the end of the year, so there wasn’t a whole lot of PTO left in my bucket. I had to take several days unpaid and I felt like the HR person was judging me for somehow…I don’t know, not planning better?? Like somehow I should have known they would pass close together. It was a huge motivator to get out there and find another job.

        6. Myllamapeggyhill*

          This. When my co-worker’s high risk mother died, my former employer was like “So…I guess this means you don’t need that COVID exemption and will be returning to the office, right? We’ll expect to see you in person next week.”

      3. Sleepy*

        I agree with you completely. I’m that obnoxious person with an instagram account and have been guilty of using the term “furbaby”, but I was another member of the team who had lost, say, my husband or sister, I would also find it rather offensive for their death to be effectively equivocated to that of an animal. That’s not to say animal lives are worth less, but I do think the knock-on implications of them passing (for the purposes of this policy) are different and often far less complex. Not to mention that 99/100 times you get a pet fully expecting to outlive it and with a good expectation of roughly how long they’ll live, but if you’re taking leave for the bereavement of an immediate family member and you’re still working yourself it is quite likely to be unexpected or unnatural (except for the case of elderly parents).

    2. Sparqness*

      I took the day off after we had to put our dog down, but that was mostly because we had to take him to the emergency vet at midnight and I got no sleep that night, so driving the next day was dangerous. He was my heart animal, and his death broke me in a lot of ways; it’s been almost a decade, and I still don’t think I’ll ever get another dog. But I would never have considered asking for bereavement leave, even if the eligible family members hadn’t already been spelled out in our collective agreement. Yes, pets are family, and yes, their loss can hurt as much as losing a human loved one, but the logistics of a human death are so much more complex than with a pet, which is kind of the point of bereavement leave, as well as managing the first few days of grief.

      And making this allowance opens up the question, does it follow for all pets? Iguanas? Goldfish? Boa constrictors? Tarantulas? Hamsters? Parrots (who can be as long-loved as a human)? Or just cats and dogs, the fuzzy cute ones that don’t live in cages? Granting this gives a precedent that could make things… interesting until the clarification is added either in the collective agreement or employee handbook.

        1. Beth*

          I think the way it’s implemented makes it pretty clear this isn’t the case. It’s usually spelled out based on your relationship to the deceased–you get X time for a spouse or child, Y time for a parent or sibling, Z time for a more distant relative, etc. Generally, there’s no “If you’re estranged from your parent and don’t feel grief at their death then you don’t get time off” clause; there’s not usually an “if your close friend who’s like a sibling dies then you do get time off” clause, either.

          To me, this says that you get time off for the relationships where you’re most likely to be responsible for logistics–where the law is most likely to consider you the default executor of their estate in lieu of a will stating otherwise, where you’re most likely to need to make logistical adjustments to your life in the wake of their death (e.g. finding childcare if your stay-at-home spouse suddenly passed away), and where you may have familial obligations (even if you weren’t close to your uncle, you may well be expected to travel to the funeral to support your mom after the loss of her brother). Your emotional grieving is your own, and will vary a lot in form and duration from person to person. But there are common social obligations around death that take time to handle. Bereavement leave is for those.

          1. Keevs*

            But that argument (bereavement leave is for where you’re “most likely to be” – but not necessarily – responsible for logistics) could easily apply the other way – i.e. it’s meant for the cases where you’re “most likely to be”, but again not necessarily, experiencing significant grief.

            Personally I think it’s intended for a bit of both.

            1. Keevs*

              (As in – the same way there’s no “if you’re estranged and don’t feel grief you don’t get the leave” clause, there’s equally no “if you’re not responsible for any logistics and not travelling to the funeral you don’t get the leave” clause)

            2. Beth*

              I don’t think anyone expects that a couple days (or even a couple weeks, which is about the max for even the most generous bereavement leave) is going to be enough for someone to get over the grief of losing a beloved person.

              1. allathian*

                Do you really get over the grief of losing a beloved person? Maybe it’s a matter of semantics, but I think that people mostly learn to live with the loss, and get used to a different life. Certainly with the loss of a significant other or a child, I’ve heard plenty of people who’ve experienced either or both say that it’s not an experience they ever expect to “get over”.

                I haven’t experienced that sort of debilitating grief. Granted, all of my grandparents have died, and all of them were ill for a prolonged period before they finally died, and all of them had expressed a wish to die before they went, except my closest grandparent, my paternal grandma, who had basically lost all cognitive functions to dementia before she died. They were all so sick that if they’d been beloved pets, they would’ve been euthanized long before they died. When they went, all I honestly could feel was relief that it was finally over for them. I didn’t cry at any of their funerals (granted, I didn’t laugh either) and books and movies frequently move me to tears.

                Three maternal uncles, a paternal “uncle” (really my dad’s cousin who was adopted by my paternal grandparents when his parents died in a car crash), and a maternal aunt have died. I’ve attended their funerals, but since funerals here tend to be held on a Saturday if at all possible, I didn’t need to take any extra leave for any of them, and I didn’t mourn them personally. I went to the funerals to support my grieving parents, not for myself.

                1. Whimsical Gadfly*

                  My husband passed just over 2.5 years ago and I immersed myself in the grief community for much of the first year. There were people who had been going to the support groups for years non-stop and others who returned because they were struggling again (another loss or big life change tended to stir things up.)
                  And I can say that I don’t expect to ever get over it, and that stuff from losing my dad in my mid-20s still comes up

              2. BeckyinDuluth*

                I agree, and I think we can also assume when people say “enough time to get over” they mean “enough time to go back to work.”

                My sister lost her husband unexpectedly last winter. He was 36. She couldn’t work for months (they had worked in the same place, met there, saw eachother coming and going, etc). She had panic attacks even thinking about it. But bereavement leave didn’t cover all that time. She was fortunate that she could take it mostly unpaid. Other folks would have had to go back earlier than they were ready for.

                People are grieving during bereavement leave, for sure, and also often comforting other loved ones. But that doesn’t mean that’s what it’s for. Honestly, though, it doesn’t really matter in the end.

            3. Gothic Bee*

              I agree, I think it should be for both, at least as far as the workplace’s policy is implemented. Companies that expect you to use bereavement just for logistics can get really picky about the circumstances. As an example, I worked somewhere where they thought bereavement should only be for the logistics of attending a funeral/related events, so if a family member died but they didn’t have a funeral, they didn’t give you time off. Or if the funeral was nearby and you didn’t need extra travel time, you’d only get 1 day off. Whereas the full bereavement leave benefit was meant to be 3 days. Thankfully they eventually relaxed the policy, but I had a family member pass away before they did and requesting bereavement leave was such an annoying process (and I didn’t end up getting approved for it anyway) that I figured if I needed it again, I’d just use PTO.

        2. Asenath*

          I haven’t seen it that way, mainly because grief goes way beyond the three days we are allowed for bereavement leavd, but also because even when I haven’t been the person in charge of arrangements, there is so much to do. Of course, there is often an initial emotional shock of grief, even when I knew the relative wasn’t expected to live much longer, but also there’s time off needed to attend a funeral or memorial service, and in my case, often to travel to get to it and back again. Sometimes there’s help to offer the other mourners – notifications of more distance relatives (at their request), perhaps offering transportation to the family home or services (pre COVID) and so on. The grief continues, but it’s the duties connected with the death that have to be done immediately.

          As for pets – it never occurred to me to take bereavement leave on such an occasion, and it wouldn’t have come up since my employer lists the relatives whose deaths trigger that leave, and they’re all human. Paid leave for vet visits with a sick animal and on the day itself, sure.

        3. Snow Globe*

          My company offers 3 days for family if the funeral is local; 5 days if travel is involved. That rather sounds like it is intended that the leave is to be used for planning and logistics surrounding the funeral.

        4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I’d have needed a whole year for my mother if that were the case.

          Here in France the labour code gives you one day to attend the funeral, plus one more if it’s not possible to get there and back in a day. You get it for the death of a parent or child (not grandparents, not siblings or anyone else). Industries with specific collective bargaining agreements may have much more.

        5. Colette*

          Maybe the initial grief, but grief lasts far longer than any bereavement policy I’ve ever heard of. If your spouse dies unexpectedly, you’re unlikely to be done grieving a week later, but it’s entirely possible you’ll be out of bereavement time.

          1. Liz*

            Exactly. A very good friend of mine, who I also work with, lost her husband very suddenly, a few years back. She was devastated, out for several weeks, (we get 5 days bereavement for a spouse, parent etc.), so I don’t know exactly what form of time she took, but it wasn’t an issue. She had never been the same, although now she is just starting to go out again, etc.

            I know when my dad passed, the first week or so was a blur, so no way I could have worked. even when I came back, i made silly mistakes, etc. as my mind wasnt fully on work.

          2. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

            For #1, I could see the woman taking a day off or two for her dog. But for her to expect the company to have her off multiple days per bereavement is a bit much. I know when I lost one of my animals I would have not been in a very great mood at all and I was crying a lot. So I understand that she probably wouldn’t be in a good frame of mind to do her job in the first place for a day or so. What’s crazy is I was at a job several years ago in which one of my dear friends died in December and the funeral was held in January. Within my job there was a policy that you can’t use any of your vacation time December and January because it’s still in the holidays. Since she wasn’t “considered family” even though she was one of my dear friends and I was closer to her than some of my family members, I was not given bereavement and I could not use my vacation time to go travel to her funeral. The company was “nice”enough to let me be off two or three days without pay. I put nice in quotations because it just seems like my friend died and inconvenienced them. I really dislike this company. All the times that I worked at that company I was undervalued and underpaid. I’ve never forgotten this. So for this woman to act all huffy because she’s not getting extra bereavement time for her dog is ridiculous. I couldn’t even use vacation time for my friend.

            1. Cafe au Lait*

              I wonder if the employee is the sort of person who considers maternity leave a “vacation.” They see a colleague getting time off for bereavement and think “they’re getting time off to sit around and be sad!” Which it isn’t at all. Sometimes it’s so busy the first moment you have to think is after the funeral and all the obligations are over.

              My grandfather died the first week of October. I took the full three days offered because I had stuff to do. Funeral clothes to buy. Cookies to bake. (Grandpa loved cookies. I made a couple batches of his favorite to share at the luncheon). My house to prep for two days of not being there. I was off but I was exhausted.

            2. Anonymeece*

              I agree. When my cats pass, I absolutely will take PTO, because I do consider them a part of my family and I will be very sad and crying when they pass away. What the boss has allowed already seems very generous and kind, and so the woman demanding more seems off.

              I’m so sorry about your friend. I had a similar situation where a dear friend passed unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition. She was only 30. I was allowed to take a day off, unpaid, to grieve (mainly because I was bursting into tears while working with customers), but not bereavement leave because she wasn’t family. That’s absolutely horrid your business wouldn’t allow you time off to attend her funeral.

        6. Dust Bunny*

          Hunh. I’ve always assumed it was for logistics since a lot of that has to be done during business hours, while grieving is an any-hours thing.

          If it’s for grieving, that would be a case for letting her have it. There are a lot fewer logistical problems with dead pets than with dead humans, but grieving is a lot less quantifiable.

          1. kt*

            Yeah, I thought bereavement leave was for:

            * arranging the logistics of the funeral and figuring out how to fund it
            * getting money from shared bank accounts, or getting title to the car
            * getting paperwork done to communicate to tax authorities and insurance that someone is dead
            * dealing with house stuff

            There is just an enormous amount of paperwork and other work around human death, and as Dust Bunny says, a lot of it has to be done during business hours.

            1. Oodles of Noodles*

              There’s so very much paperwork involved. Having gone through it as an executor before (and will again once Mom goes), the best nuts and bolts advice I can give is to get more death certificates than you think you’ll need. At least 10, more if they’ve got more complicated financial planning.

              1. myswtghst*

                Seconding this. It’s better to have extras on hand in case you need them later than to have to figure out how to order more.

            2. J*

              I will just say from experiencing the recent unexpected death of a loved one who died intestate, it only adds to the complexity and work. Plus there’s a huge backlog due to Covid, which he passed from. We couldn’t even meet with the funeral home for nearly a week, we had to sort through his entire home (and a secret home) to determine if he was intestate and any accounts he had, and we didn’t even get a death certificate for a month so we couldn’t even start on half of the estate planning. Plus we had to rescue a cat, deal with his teenage daughter being unprepared to handle being his next of kin since she was at college and can’t access the money (and her college telling her she had to be back within a week or they’d drop her from all her classes, which … nope, we weren’t letting them try that). We’re about 5 weeks out and still having to take time off work regularly to assist. I needed 6 days total for immediate full-time logistics and it was just my brother-in-law I was trying to assist. I got 3 days.

              I took far less time when my grandparents passed, though their sicknesses used up some leave. They at least had prepared their estate and we knew what to expect through their decline. The unexpectedness of a death just compounds the time and logistics for needed leave.

              1. Here we go again*

                When my mom passed I spent probably a good 30 hours one week after her funeral to sort out her paperwork notify credit card companies, social security get death certificates, get a vehicle transferred into my name, collect her ashes and sort through her possessions. If I had to clean up and sell the entire house it could’ve easily been a good two full work weeks.

              2. BeckyinDuluth*

                The waiting for a death certificate (especially with COVID delays) is so real! And you can’t do anything until then. Ugh. It was 6 weeks before my sister had a death certificate. Thankfully I was able to live and work from her home until we got the bulk of it sorted out, but what a nuisance on top of the trauma.

            3. an academic*

              Yes. When my grandmother died, she was living with my mom and basically had no estate (she had already given away her house and stored her life savings as $100 bills randomly inserted into photo albums and books). But my mom still had to spend time to stay up with the body for the required time, cook offerings (friends helped), notify a government in the opposite time zone of her death, organize a funeral in two countries, and figure out how to send half of the ashes overseas (surprisingly complicated). She definitely needed help. Fortunately I was in grad school and my advisor was a kind person who just let me take as much time as I wanted. I don’t think there’s any human death that isn’t a logistical headache for someone. When dogs die… OK, I’ve people set up an urn and a small altar for a dead dog’s ashes, but the preparations never requires fighting with the government or getting on a plane.

        7. Daffy Duck*

          This employee gets 15 days PTO a year and the company has 5 days bereavement policy. She currently has 6 days PTO banked. The boss offered her 3+ days bereavement for her pet and she is arguing she should get the extra 2 days bereavement and not need to use any PTO.
          Everyone is different, but when my dad died I sure wasn’t worried about saving my PTO for summer vacation.

      1. Jovigirl*

        When we give people sick time we don’t specify which illnesses qualify. They decide if they are sick enough. It should be the same for bereavement. They use it if they need it.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I posted separately about this, but my employer encourages staff to use sick days for mental well-being. I could see using sick time for grieving the loss of a pet.

          1. generic_username*

            That’s what I did. I took two sick days after my dog passed away to grieve and process

        2. BethDH*

          I think this is an argument for using sick leave (or what my org is now calling “health leave”).
          If you consider mental health eligible for sick leave, which I think you should, the emotional toll of grief should count. That makes it possible to use more of it than you’d get from bereavement leave if you need it, and to do it later if your grieving doesn’t happen on a calendar.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I think this is an argument for using sick leave (or what my org is now calling “health leave”).

            I also think it’s a good argument for a PTO bank. If you need time, just take it; the only authority on why to answer is yourself.

            1. TechWorker*

              People who get sick also need time to relax though. A shared bucket is great until you spend a lot of it sick and then have no time off at all the rest of the year…

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                People who get sick also need time to relax though. A shared bucket is great until you spend a lot of it sick and then have no time off at all the rest of the year…

                I’d counter that those are more quantity and budgeting issues (which are not independent each other) than it is whether or not the total PTO is segmented uniformly or not, but I agree those are issues.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                They combined ours a few years ago, and it’s the same number of days, just all in one bucket. It’s a lot easier to deal with that way (no one feels like they have to “justify” using sick time, even though no one asked for that until a week in, at which point we’d like a return-to-work note; no one trying to game the sick time system by using sick time for vacation days), and everyone has the same number of paid days off as they did under the sick bucket/vacation bucket days. And they all roll over and are paid out when you leave.

            2. Eden*

              I really disagree! If your parent dies you should be able to take time off regardless of how much PTO you’ve used or not. I want to be able to take the same vacation whether or not I need more sick days that year or tragedy strikes. I don’t want to have to cancel travel plans because I had to use some sick leave.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Genuinely curious:

                You’d say that a 40 day PTO bank, all-inclusive, is inferior to getting 25 days of vanilla PTO, 3 personal days, 9 sick days, and 3 bereavement days?

                How does your employer handle if you’re sick for 15 days in a given calendar year? Do you forfeit any of those 9 sick days if your (physical and mental) health don’t require them?

                1. Helen Waite*

                  Yep, here in my otherwise lovely and cushy work environment, we max out at 22 days vacation and 6 days of sick leave (which can be used for a child or spouse’s illness). Every year when it’s time to set goals for the next year, I joke that my top goal is to use all my sick days. Note: it may be a coincidence, but we have fantastic insurance we pay $0 for, and I rarely use more than 1 or 2 days for personal illness)

                2. Eden*

                  Well, I really doubt companies are going to tally up all the sick leave they’d allow and put it in the same PTO bank, and certainly they’re not going to tally up all other leave types. For example, my company also offers “safe time” (e.g. for leaving an abusive relationship) and time off for voting and jury duty. Should they add all those possible leave types and give them to everyone each year? I mean, they couldn’t even if they wanted to because those are state-mandated, but even if they weren’t, that doesn’t make much sense. Bereavement and jury duty are special occurrences. You’re not going to find many companies willing to put that full potential total into a PTO bank yearly. So yes, I stand by “separate buckets” because I don’t think the specific day number scenario you describe exists.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  That’s fair, and we’re all entitled to a preference. If I saw the PTO Bank as a reduction in PTO, I would likely feel similar.

                4. A Person*

                  Not OP, but I have a similar attitude – yes, I think that it’s better to have them separated. Being ill, for example, is a very different thing to being on holiday, and it means I don’t feel that if I take a day off sick when I need it then I lose the chance to take a day doing something fun (which means I’m much less likely to force myself into the office when I shouldn’t, which is actually better for me in terms of recovery and everyone else in terms of not infecting them with stuff…). Similar with bereavement etc.

                  That said, where I’m based, separate is normal but so is not really allocating “you have X sick days/Y bereavement days per year” – e.g. my first 80 sick days per year are at full pay, and any number of approved bereavement days will be (but someone has to approve a number per incident for those). Obviously it’s expected that almost everyone will not need 80 sick days in a year, but if disaster strikes you can have as many as you need – including more than that, but pay changes at that point. So holiday is holiday, needing time off for illness or bereavement is a completely separate thing that’s linked entirely to need not to any sort of allocation.

              2. Here we go again*

                I think if someone immediately close to you or if you’re next of kin or in charge of their affairs you should be about to use fmla.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Surely it’s the doctor who decides if you’re sick enough by writing you a sick note?

          Here in France you can take up to three days off sick without a sick note, so people don’t have to make an appointment to see a doctor for a hangover or bad cold, more than that and the doctor write the note. The amount of time they give is dependent on how serious your condition is (you can’t give more than one week for the flu for example).

          1. ThatGirl*

            There are plenty of minor illnesses that don’t require a doctor’s visit but that you should stay home for – colds, mild to moderate flu, stomach bugs, etc. My work doesn’t track sick time off, but they do ask for a doctor’s note if you’ll be off more than 3 days.

          2. De (Germany)*

            I hope doctors in France are allowed to give more than one week of sick leave for an actual influenza infection. Influenza is infectious for up to a week after symptoms start and many people need more than a week to recover.

          3. S*

            Okay, that’s nuts–influenza can be vicious, and the last time I had a bad case of it, I wasn’t in any condition to walk, never mind work, seven days in.

          4. Beth*

            Not in the US. Our entire medical system is too thoroughly screwed up. It would be an unmanageable hardship in many cases for sick employees to have to go to the doctor and get a note to qualify for time off — doctors are expensive, overworked, and overscheduled, and too many of us lack that level of health coverage. It’s a real mess.

        4. The OTHER other*

          The issue isn’t trying to guess the severity of someone’s feelings/grief, but rather the type of circumstance the leave is intended for. I think the employee here is being oddly argumentative. Trying to claim the employee handbook doesn’t say the “family member” has to be human… well, what parts of any employee rule book specify what species it refers to? We are humans. This has, until now, gone without saying. And now this employer (and no doubt others) is going to have lawyers write voluminous blather to try to head off hundreds of potential ridiculous leave requests, for dead houseplants, dead relatives from the civil war, exorcised ghosts, lost dolls, etc.

        5. Some dude*

          This is my thought. If someone wants to take time to grieve a dog, whatever. Why get into it with the employee over what kind of grief is worthy? Or is the concern that since it is per family member, this employee could take several weeks of bereavement to mourn the loss of members of her menagerie?

      2. Pool Lounger*

        Why not for iguanas? It’d just be a set amount of hours per year (or however the company does it) no matter the pet or person. You use your paid leave on your iguana, you use it on your grandma, your choice.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      I agree this could be polarizing. I absolutely could see taking days off to deal with the loss of a pet–for me, they are family, more beloved than many people. I can also see a company stating ‘bereavement leave is X days so company employees can plan and attend funerals and services.’

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        take days off sure, like I was in no state to work after my kitten died in a tragic graphically traumatising accident, but for it to be officially classified as bereavement leave that doesn’t come out of your PTO?

        1. Gothic Bee*

          Yeah, I took the day off when my dog died, but I absolutely didn’t expect that to be part of bereavement leave. I don’t think the LW should feel bad about telling the employee they need to use their personal time off if they need more time, rather than extending bereavement leave. And I love my pets and do see them as part of my family, but unless the employer has a policy that explicitly states they give bereavement for the death of a pet, I think it’s safe to say standard bereavement leave is only for human deaths.

    4. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I can’t understand how anyone would expect the leave to apply to pets, but maybe I spend time with too many animals. My workplace gives me a week of leave to travel and a0ttend a funeral of a close family member, and a couple days for a more distant relative, and I think that is fair. Extending that to a pet seems confusing and weird.

      The one change to my workplace that I appreciate is a recent decision to provide the leave to a one time only death of someone who is like family, so a best friend. But it specifically mentions a person, so there is no confusion. The wording is specific without being weird in reference to a person, as they define close family members as mother, father, etc and more distant family members as in-laws and the one-time friend is ‘a person who is like family’, and the leave must be taken within a week of the death or the leave period must include their memorial day as well as travel. They also say that bereavement is about individual circumstances, and senior managers have the ability to change the rules and grant more leave, but I can’t imagine that would include pets.

      1. Chad*

        Can you use sick leave for pets? Then You should be able to use bereavement for pets. Alison had a response to a LW some time ago that said all employees should allow employees to use sick leave for pets. I’m not seeing a difference between the two. Alison’s response was lacking

        1. LavaLamp(she/her)*

          I come from an area that’s quite dog friendly, and the only place I think that might offer this is Kong (the dog toy company headquarters are in my state, got to interview with them once. SUPER cool company). However, I have had managers let me take sick time or PTO last minute to care for my dog.

          I love my dog and my cats more than anything, I was really sad when one of my dogs passed a few years ago because I had just lost my mom. I think it depends on the situation. If someone goes through something similar to me (I really hope not) where I lost my mom, my uncle and my dog in about a year time span I can see being more lenient.

        2. singlemaltgirl*

          we have wellness time which people can use for mental or physical health. need to be off b/c you have a sick child? that can be wellness time. have a pet that needs to go to the vet or be cared for at home b/c they ate something they shouldn’t have? also fine for wellness time. we let employees decide how to use that time for their mental and physical well being. they don’t need to justify it. they just know how much time they have each year for this.

          but bereavement leave? sorry, no. and i’ve had pets that i loved dearly. there’s vacation, wellness time, and then you can take an unpaid leave if you need to and discuss with me to get approval first. but now i’m checking our policy to make sure it’s about humans. omg. i agree with alison. for many people, they may take weeks or months to deal with grief and loss. i know bereavement leave usually covers 2 days to week or so. it’s not for grieving per se but the accoutrements to grieving – getting together with family, attending services, doing the planning, etc.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Where I worked the longest, we had generous vacation time, reasonable sick time, and 4 days of personal time that could be used for anything from having to be home for a plumber to mental health to whatever else might pop up. Most people who lost pets used a day or two of this. It was one of the best things about that job.

        3. Dog and cat fosterer*

          Definitely not, although sick leave is given whenever someone is unable to work due to illness, and that could include the mental health impact of losing a pet. So bereavement of a pet to the point of illness would qualify.

        4. Not A Manager*

          I don’t agree with your reasoning. Sick pets can easily require as much time and attention as sick humans. The time off is for the tasks, not for the amount of love. Dead pets just don’t require as much logistics as dead humans do.

          And if your reasoning is “in this one case pets are treated like people, so pets should be treated like people in all cases,” the easiest response for an employer is to stop treating pets the same as people in any circumstances at all.

          1. CDM*

            typically, no. But that will vary with the human and with the pet.

            I’m currently dealing with the very sudden and unexpected death of my daughter’s horse a week ago, and the logistics of dealing with the insurance company, the vet, the necropsy and the disposal of the remains have taken a similar amount of time to arranging for the uncomplicated burial of my tween child with few financial affairs to resolve some years ago. I never thought losing a pet could be this complicated. I spent just as much time pulling together show records from years ago for the insurance company to justify them paying out the (minimal!) life insurance benefit as creating a photo slideshow for the funeral.

            Still never occurred to me to ask for bereavement leave, though I did take the rest of the afternoon off from work (and additional hours here and there) to deal with arrangements.

            1. Pippa K*

              The sudden death of my horse was, without exaggeration, the worst grief I’ve ever experienced. I think some commenters above might find that ridiculous – one person even said that treating such grief as worthy of bereavement leave would be an insult to their love for their human relatives. And I don’t know that it needs to fall in the bereavement leave category, which of necessity is based on generalisations about people’s important relationships. So the policy will take seriously the death of my estranged sibling, which would not incapacitate me, but other losses might not be visible to the policy. It’s probably not possible to write a policy that is perfectly individually tailored and also uniformly applicable to everyone’s circumstances. A compassionate workplace would find ways to accommodate individuals’ needs as well as possible, and there’ll be limits to how well they can do so.

              But surely we can all recognise that people will genuinely grieve different things and to different degrees. There’s just no need to disparage someone else’s grief just because you wouldn’t feel it in the same circumstances.

              1. Pippa K*

                (To clarify, I don’t mean that you, CDM, are disparaging anyone’s grief – just referring to what seems a common view that some grief is legitimate and some grief is just silly.)

              2. Environmental Compliance*


                My horse has been with me for longer than my husband. I will be devastated when he passes. And the logistics of getting a horse cremated? Absolutely bonkers.

                When my birth giver passes, technically – as ‘immediate family’ – I’d be entitled to a heck of a lot of bereavement that I absolutely will not need.

                What it comes down to really is compassion and working with the staff to figure out the best situation for both them and the workplace.

                I will say that I fully expect to take off work when my gelding passes for multiple days, but using sick/PTO to cover, and WFH if I can, since I also don’t expect anyone at work to understand the situation.

              3. Anhaga*

                Even under the “logistics” concept, the death of a horse should definitely qualify. It is not easy to deal with the logistics surrounding the death of a large animal such as a horse, let alone the grief.

                That said, you’re not going to come to terms with that grief in a week. You might be more functional in a week, but the hole will still be there.

          2. Some dude*

            My pet died recently and it took me about 15 minutes to manage the logistics of their passing. A relative died a few years ago, and it has taken weeks to sort out their estate, sell their house, get rid of their belongings, etc. So if bereavement leave is about logistics rather than grief, I could see it not applying to pets.

        5. Heather*

          At least at my job, I can’t call in sick if my child is ill. I can take holiday, and my manager is understanding, and there are now separate arrangements for caring for a family member who has Covid, but my sick leave is for when I, personally, am sick.

          Taking ordinary paid time off seems like a reasonable compromise.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, me too. For kids under 10, parents get temporary paid parental leave to care for a sick child. For older kids and adult or elderly family members, you can take unpaid leave, or use your vacation days. If you’re taking unpaid leave to care for a family member, your manager can’t deny the request any more than they would be able to refuse sick leave. Legally they could refuse either or both, but most businesses figure that it would be bad for employee retention to do so, and if a doctor says an employee isn’t fit to work, this usually stands.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Interesting – our managers have specifically said that sick leave can be used to care for kids, elderly parents, AND pets. Which, speaking as someone who has a beloved elderly dog but no kids, I really appreciated that.

            That said, I would not expect our bereavement leave to extend to animals, no matter how much I love my furbaby.

        6. WellRed*

          When was the last time you made arrangements for a pet, including writing an obit, planning services, clearing belongings out of an apartment? Stressing over costs? Ensuring people were notified?

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            Many people don’t have to do this. If Dad passes, Mom may very well do all this and the same with numerous relatives. The vast majority of people at a funeral have nothing to do with planning the funeral or anything else. They are there because Grandad passes, Counsin Billy passed, etc.

        7. Person from the Resume*

          No. I wouldn’t expect to use sick leave for pets even sick leave to care for a family member which is allowed. It never occurred to me someone would.

        8. Aitch Arr*

          Because I work in one of those states with mandated Paid Sick Leave, the law itself sets out what Sick Leave can be used for.

          Pets aren’t covered.

        9. generic_username*

          Bereavement leave tends to not be limited or banked in the same way as sick leave. Like, if your mom dies in January, and your dad dies in march, and your husband dies in July, and so on… you get the week leave each time. But if you have 12 serious illnesses, you can’t continue taking sick time past the allotted amount per year

    5. Boof*

      I’m imagining the person with tons of pets / short lived pets asking for bereavement leave every time.
      No, I’m sorry, I really love my pets but it’s way different if my SO or first degree relative died, and there can be way more logistics to negotiate too for the person who has to deal with it.

      1. Jovigirl*

        Bereavement is a period of mourning. If your parent dies and you don’t have a service does that mean you shouldn’t be entitled to bereavement time?

        1. Boof*

          I mean, an employer auditing you for details on what arrangements you are working on, exactly, for your recently deceased immediate relative (or SO) is kind of up there with grave boss, or at least demanding to know exactly what symptoms you have and how sick you are when requesting sick leave…

        2. Jillian*

          Well, yeah, at my employer. We get max of three CONSECUTIVE DAYS. My mom died and I took the next day off unpaid, so I could take the 3 days the next week when her funeral was held.

          1. Grumpy Lawyer*

            My old employer also required us to take the days consecutively, until I pointed out that if they wouldn’t give me my full three days if I interrupted them by attending an important client meeting that was scheduled right before my grandmother’s funeral, they’d have to find someone else to cover it because I’d be taking the day off. What a dumb policy.

        3. Pennyworth*

          Is it though? I’ve always thought of it as time off for getting through the immediate aftermath of a family death, however that might happen to be in your own culture. Mourning / grieving can go on for a long time.

        4. allathian*

          Bereavement is a period of mourning, but grieving a loved one can take years. I can’t imagine any employer anywhere granting that much paid leave. Bereavement leave is for logistics, and for the immediate, acute grief that can leave a person completely paralyzed.

          1. ceiswyn*

            That immediate, paralyzing grief may occur with pets as well, though.

            (The logistics less so, although time to take the body to the vet and pick up a little box of ashes a few days later would be nice)

            1. Wednesdays we eat chicken*

              It can also happen with friends, or loss of a pregnancy, or loss of a home, or a life changing diagnosis… sick time seems to be a better fit.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                At my job Bereavement Time comes out of your sick leave first (I am fortunate to have separate banks of personal and sick leave). They also specify which relationships for you or spouse entitle you to which amount of time.
                If you need a day for a pet – our policy would state it needs to come out of your leave banks, with the caveat of if you are taking three or more consecutive sick days you will need a note from the doctor telling work in broad strokes that “yes you are now cleared to return to work, and that you had been out for an illness.” Right now the only specific illness we want the name of is Covid, because they want to make sure you’re not returning while contagious still.

              2. Here we go again*

                Having a miscarriage should be included in bereavement time. I can see someone needing a week to recover physically and emotionally from that.

                1. Black Horse Dancing*

                  If you count a fetus for bereavement, absolutely a pet should be considered. Or take it from sick as suggested. I mean, like so many are saying, it’s not that the parents to be aren’t grieving or upset but there are few logistics to figure out. Sick leave, PTO, etc.

                2. Here we go again*

                  Black Horse, I disagree. A fetus is a child. Or hope for a child. I’ve never lost a pregnancy, by I was around when my mother had several. It’s loosing a human member of your family.
                  A pet is an animal, legally considered property.
                  Also when someone has a miscarriage there is a physical/ hormonal/ emotional aspect to it where you’re probably not physically well enough to be at work. The only time I’ve heard of someone not physically being well enough to be at work after a pet died was because they were both in a car accident the owner was injured.

                3. Boof*

                  I mean, everyone’s different, but early miscarriages at least are really not losing a member of the family; it’s losing the idea/hope for a new family member at that time, but it would be no where near the same as losing an actual child. I speak from personal experience on the early miscarriage front. (actually, physically I felt FANTASTIC because I feel vaguely terrible in the first trimester, which made it particularly hard to be sad; again, know everyone’s different but the physical recovery time was nill too)

            2. allathian*

              Yes, it can. My parents were retired when it happened, but when they lost their two cats within two months, both of them mourned the losses. My dad went into depression. He’s suffered from multiple bouts of depression throughout his adult life. The cats were siblings from the same litter, and I’m convinced that the second cat lost his will to live when his brother died. He stopped eating, lost a lot of weight in a short time, and went into a decline. They were 16. I’m actually tearing up as I write this.

              For what would have been their 17th birthday, my sister and I dug through our extensive photo archives for the best pictures and ordered canvas prints of the cats. They still hold pride of place in my parents’ hallway, it’s literally the first thing they see when they get home after a shopping trip, etc.

        5. Drag0nfly*

          It doesn’t matter that bereavement is a period of mourning because in a work context, bereavement leave is *obviously* not about grief or mourning. If it were, a parent would get leave for the rest of their life for the death of a child, or a year off for a parent or a sibling. No one would believe three days is sufficient to *mourn* the loss of family. It’s clear the point *at work* is to handle logistics.

          Even if you *don’t* have a funeral service for a relative, you still have to get the death records, turn off utilities, take care of paperwork, insurance, read the will, all that stuff. And I’m not including what happens if there are minor children who may need custody decisions. Or a living relative hospitalized as a result of an accident fatal to the relative you’re on bereavement leave for. Not one of those tasks or concerns is required with a pet you can just bury in your backyard.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            As someone who has buried two parents and a sister, I completely agree with Dragonfly. Bereavement leave could not even begin to cover the grieving process. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have returned for a long time (and when I did return after the first of the deaths, my productivity was basically zero for several weeks). It is because the survivor needs time to do things, which could be an enormous list (as I learned when I had a parent die out of state). That may sound harsh, but that is how business runs. It’s the same as sick leave: the employee doesn’t get time off because the employer feels bad for them, but because they are not functional and (if contagious) could potentially infect others.

          2. Picard*

            Completely agree with Drag0nfly. Which is why at my work we call it funeral leave. The idea is that you get time to deal with the logistics of someone passing. We’re not completely hard asses about it though but youre more likely to get approved for a day or two of unpaid leave.

          3. myswtghst*

            “It doesn’t matter that bereavement is a period of mourning because in a work context, bereavement leave is *obviously* not about grief or mourning.”

            As someone who has taken bereavement leave twice in the last 2 years, and as someone in HR, I think this is exactly it. When we write policies around leave, we want them to be based on objective criteria to minimize the risk of discrimination in how they’re applied. That means we can’t use something as subjective as grief to determine who gets leave and how long it lasts; we use a clearly defined familial relationship that indicates how likely you are to have to handle logistics and/or attend a service.

        6. Asenath*

          But bereavement leave does not cover your entire period of mourning. And even if your parent doesn’t have a service, there are things you need to take care of when your parent dies.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Exactly. I lost a grandparent last year and we still haven’t had the official funeral because of covid concerns. We’re planning that for the new year. But my parent and siblings and I did all take our bereavement leave from work so we could contact the funeral home, sign paperwork and clean out their room at the nursing home, file paperwork for the death certificate, notify family all over the country, close out bank accounts and credit cards and a multitude of other things.

        7. The Other Dawn*

          It’s meant to be either or both. And the employer wouldn’t need to know that. If a direct report tells me their immediate family member died and they’re taking bereavement time, I’d never ask how they plan to use the time. It’s not my business. All I need to know is there was a death in the family and when they plan to take the time off. It’s assumed they’ll use it however they need to.

          When my brother died a few years ago, there wasn’t anything I needed to do to plan services since most of it was done (he had cancer) and his wife arranged the rest, but it was a tragic loss and I needed that time to grieve. Whereas when my parents died, I need most of the time for planning, dealing with finances, etc., with a lot of grief mixed in. Plus they were out of state.

        8. EPLawyer*

          This is a tough one. Especially with Covid, but even pre-Covid, there was the death while logistics were handled like sorting out paperwork, finding the Will if there is one, and making arrangements for the body. Then later there was a “Celebration of Life” because in Covid you couldn’t have the family all gather for a funeral. Again even pre-Covid there was often a delay to plan an appropriate Celebration of Life. Do you get two leaves 1 for the logistics and one for the actual service? Or do you have to plan your leave accordingly?

          I hope employers are flexible on this. Like if you have 40 hours for a close family member you can split it up. If you only have the usual 3 days that might be harder.

          Grief takes longer than most bereavement leave. Just last week I had a thought about something I had discussed with my sister and I wanted to tell her. Then I remembered she’s gone and I can’t. Thankfully self employed so as long as I don’t miss deadlines I can take off all the time I want to get myself together.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            We don’t require people to take all their Bereavement Leave consecutively. Also they have up to a year* to take it.

            * – we have made some exceptions to the year requirement due to COVID.

          2. Overeducated*

            I hope so. A family member of mine died in September and we put off the memorial service because of travel during covid, we’re hoping to do it next year. I didn’t take any bereavement leave because our policy says it is for arrangements and I had none to make so I was trying to be honest, but I feel like it would be very unreasonable not to allow it later when we can actually process as a family, even if it’s a year later.

        9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Mourning a parent/grappling with the fact that your parent is dead is something you do for the rest of your life.
          Even if your parent doesn’t have a service, there are various administrative things you need to do, like declare the death and obtain a death certificate, find the will and deal with whatever the parent has put in it, notify people, deal with the corpse in whatever way. None of that applies for a pet. Well okay you notify people, but that can be just a FB post for your pet.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            That depends. Many people won’t have to do any of that because deceased had a spouse or someone else is doing that. So if it’s for logistics only, those people who don’t have to do any of that, should they get no bereavement leave?

            1. Here we go again*

              Most people will have to be in charge of someone’s final business at least once in some point during their life.
              I’m all for people using their pto for whatever reason they want. It’s their personal time off and it’s none of my business.
              But when you’re talking about people taking a full week off for a pet with no final business it makes it harder for people that need it to use it for their grandma harder.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yeah, very often the logistics are shared out. Like no way was I going to declare my father’s death on my own! And people will need babysitters while they’re off doing stuff, and so on.

        10. Gothic Bee*

          I worked somewhere that actually did this and it sucked.

          That said, I think if a company can/wants to wade into the waters of offering bereavement leave for pets, that’s great (though I think there’s a lot of forethought that would need to go into a policy on that). But in LW’s situation, it’s pretty obvious bereavement is only intended for human family. I do think employers should allow an employee who has lost a pet to use their own PTO (including sick/personal time) as needed for the loss because it can affect you a lot (I probably cried more for my dog’s death than any of my grandparents just because her death was so much more immediate and traumatic).

      2. Stitch*

        I mean, also, the sad reality of pets is that they grow old and die much faster than we do. I’ve had my cat for 15 years but knowing I’d have to let him go one day was part of the deal when I got him.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            My turtle is going to outlive my nonexistent grandchildren at the rate he’s going

            1. Pikachu*

              When you retire, you can just bring him to the office and leave him in the care of unsuspecting coworkers.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s true. It’s somewhat true for humans, as well, because for many people the hardest loss to bear is the death of a child, because at least in the developed world where infant mortality is very low, it seems to go against the natural order of things to lose a child. In populations who lack access to prenatal and postnatal healthcare, including the developed world until the first few decades of the 20th century, it was and is an accepted fact of life that every parent will lose one or more children. This doesn’t mean that the parents don’t or didn’t mourn the loss, just that they accept the losses as a fact of life, the way we accept that our pets will die before us.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Walking through a centuries-old cemetery in Massachusetts really brought it home. So many heartbreaking tiny gravestones … “Baby Girl Smith, age 3 days”. Many people have no idea how unusual the expectation that your children will live to grow up is throughout history.

          1. Stitch*

            I mean true but I’m in my 30s and I’ve said goodbye to four dogs and three cats already. You only ever have one set of parents plus maybe a couple stepparents.

    6. Beth*

      I don’t actually think it’s going to be that divisive, precisely because Alison’s answer isn’t centered on the question of whether pets count as ‘family’ or not. Bereavement leave isn’t intended as time for you to do all your grieving, and the length of it isn’t centered around how much you love the deceased or how much you’ll miss them. (If it was, there wouldn’t be designated different amounts of time for different levels of blood relation–heck, it probably wouldn’t be limited to blood family at all, plenty of people have friends that are closer to them than their extended families are!)

      A pet is more like an extended family member than an immediate one. When they die, you grieve. You might need a couple days off to bury them (or cremate them, or whatever you choose to do) and say goodbye. But there aren’t a lot of logistics to handle–you don’t need a death certificate, there’s no life insurance policy to handle, you don’t need to organize a funeral for your extended family and their friends to attend, they don’t have an estate that needs to be executed. It would be kind to offer pet owners a day or two to say goodbye and arrange for burial or cremation or whatever they’re choosing to do, but I don’t think there’s any obligation beyond that.

      1. Viette*

        Apparently whether bereavement leave is for being sad, not for logistics, is hotly debated!

        I agree with you (how on earth would a person reliably grieve enough for a family member in two weeks or less), but there are a LOT of comments on this post already saying “bereavement is for mourning”.

        1. Beth*

          A lot of comments, but it looks like mostly from one or two people. Which is a common enough type of skew in online comment sections!

        2. Caroline Bowman*

          I agree with you!

          The fact that the company in the OP’s case is giving the person a week off is very generous, but obviously once an inch is given, then a mile is wanted. My mother died in 2017. My heart is broken into dust and there are times when I suddenly find myself crying and crying (only occasionally these days!). Those days off are t deal with logistics and yes, that initial terrible shock or immediate circumstance around the death of a loved one, not so that in X number of days all is well and fine again and back to work! My neighbour’s son was killed in an accident, her grief will never end, ever. But she went back to work a few weeks later, because the practicalities and normalities of life do continue, even through misery.

          The death of a beloved companion animal is awful, it is heart-wrenching, but generally, dogs and cats don’t live as long as humans, there is an expectation that one day they will pass away, harsh as that sounds.

        3. Birch*

          They’re just wrong though. They can hotly debate it all they want, but bereavement leave is a policy with a definition that is different than “bereavement” as a concept. We don’t say that parenting is over as soon as parental leave is over, and officially recognized holidays don’t always line up with holiday leave–it similarly doesn’t make sense for these people to deliberately misunderstand the difference between a life event and an employer leave policy. If they’re going to continue to debate it, let them. Doesn’t change the reality.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think that’s very well stated.

            I’m wistful at the idea of 18+ years’ paid maternity leave, though …

        4. Well...*

          There may be a middle ground. One could think of bereavement leave as time for someone to process the shock of a loved one’s death and deal with the initial turbulence that would completely distract one from work.

          I also think it shouldn’t apply to pets though. A human death affects a whole community, and the initial fallout is orders of magnitude higher when you are both privately grieving and attending to the needs of that community (in the form of both logistical and emotional labor). Pets rarely have deep bonds with humans outside the household of their primary caregivers.

          1. Drag0nfly*

            Excellent point. When my grandmother died, her whole community came out for her wake and her funeral. She was a month away from 90 when she died, so in addition to over 1oo descendants who came from abroad to send her off, there was also the town she had been a part of from her youth (small town).

          2. Liz*

            I think this may be a “mileage may vary” situation. With one exception, all of my family bereavement experiences have been very private, with small, intimate funerals and the only involvement with the wider community was a handful of phonecalls to wider family to let them know of the family member’s passing. These things are very hard to generalise, hence why I think a degree of discretion/compassion is the way to go rather than trying to reach a consensus on what bereavement leave is for and how much is appropriate/standard. It’s good to have some policy set in stone so if someone needs time off to deal with a big family funeral of a close relative during crunch time, then they have company policy in their corner, but it’s also a kind gesture to extend a couple of freebie days to someone whose mental health is in the toilet because their pet has just died. The company is under no obligation of course, but it’s just a good gesture of goodwill and probably pays off in the long run.

        5. misspiggy*

          Mourning is, or used to be, the word for the social, outward side of grieving. It’s a collection of things you do when someone close to you has died. This may be one factor in some people’s confusion.

        6. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Hmm, seems like it’s always the same few people who argue it’s for grieving, so seems more like a few people whose experience/ideas are outside the norm and are digging their heels in about it. Which is an interesting discussion and it seems like maybe bereavement leave should be called something else(“death logistics leave” seems a bit on the nose though), but hardly “hotly debated”.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            This is where I wonder if these people have lost human loved ones (which is not limited to family only, as I learned when a close friend died tragically) or were estranged from their family. I loved my deceased pets and wish they could still be with me. However, the logistics took less than a day. That is not true with human loved ones. Plus, given a choice of having all of my pets back forever or my parents for a day, I would always go with the latter.

            While OP’s employee is clearly grieving, it is clear that (1) bereavement leave is not for the entire grieving process and is there during the most logistically intense time period, and (2) few–if any–businesses are going to accept OP’s argument.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Honestly even with estranged family members I would still take the bereavement leave to see my lawyer to get my rejection of inheritance in order to make sure I don’t have to deal with all the paperwork for people who officially don’t even know I exist. The biggest defender of bereavement leave being for grieving seems to think that logistics = funeral, which makes me think they have never had to deal with a human loved one dying. Dying generates quite a lot of paperwork.

              1. Aitch Arr*

                Also, even with estranged family members, one may still be in touch with other family members who aren’t estranged. It would be nice to have some time to take to support them.

              2. Dawbs*

                It’s also interesting how greif works.

                I found myself profoundly affected by the death of a rather despised family member because, as the shrink would say, some times we “grieve the relationship we wish we’d had”. Not at all the same as the grief for those i loved deeply, but still deeply emotional.

                (I also took time off for that one so other family members wouldn’t have to deal with stuff solo

                And I went to the funeral to support the family that was greiving. It also let me bring my kid- because her relationship with the deceased is hers, not mine… but i could still monitor to make sure she wasn’t overly exposed to the weird toxicity levels of the whole bloody mess.
                If i hadn’t attended i wouldn’t have felt comfortable with her going. )

        7. MissCoco*

          It does seem that the purpose (and perhaps name) of the policy is something else that the company could clarify when they are clarifying that it only covers human deaths

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. That said, when a friend of mine took bereavement leave when her estranged mom died, and she didn’t have any logistical responsibilities, she felt like a fraud. Her mom had dementia, and they’d been estranged for years before she became incapacitated, and because adult children here don’t have a legal duty to care for their old parents, she just washed her hands of the whole thing and let the government appoint a legal guardian for her mom, and didn’t attend the cremation. Her mom’s ashes were scattered in a memorial grove, and she didn’t attend that ceremony either.

        She did feel a bit better when I suggested to her that she’d been grieving all her adult life for the loving mother she never had, and that she could use the leave to come to terms with those feelings. She did, and felt better afterwards.

        1. Beth*

          Yeah, there definitely are times when the structure of bereavement leave doesn’t match the reality of an individual’s life–it’s based on common societal expectations, which of course aren’t actually universal. More than fraud, though, the situation that worries me more is when someone has a really central but not-socially-acknowledged relationship with the deceased. A good company and a good manager will make adjustments as needed (e.g. many policies will offer less leave for a grandparent than a parent, but if an employee was raised by their grandmother and is her heir and the one handling all the logistics, hopefully they’d treat that as functionally a parent), but not all companies are that flexible.

          1. Allonge*

            Good point. In a way, all leave is like this – some people would need extensive sick leave, some barely get a cold every five years. For the basic holidays, too, there are a few workaholics who don’t quite know what to do with themselves if they cannot go to the office regularly, while there are people with so many non-work responsibilities that they could use any amount of PTO. I suppose it feels more personal about bereavement leave.

          2. allathian*

            Yes, that’s a great point! Never mind that there are people with no family to stand as next of kin and who appoint a friend as their executor. That person might need some time off to just take care of the logistics, but I assume that most employers would expect them to take PTO for that.

          3. Anonon*

            Anon cos don’t want the story to be recognisable..

            It can depend on individual manager too – a coworker left my company partly because they only gave a week of leave when his grandad died. His dad had died from illness a few years before so he was doing all the admin, and needed to travel to a different company to do so. His fiancés company gave her 2 weeks paid leave even though she wasn’t directly related so I think that just highlighted the difference… but the ridiculous thing was my company *would* have given him the leave, but his manager just followed the policy to the letter and didn’t escalate it to his own manager (who would have been like ‘yes obviously we can do that’).

        2. Anon for this one*

          Yeah, I had a similar situation last year with the death of an estranged parent. I knew bosses would handle that awkwardly so I proactively said “I won’t need bereavement leave as I won’t be at the funeral and don’t need to take care of those kind of things” which I think the boss appreciated. We were in the middle of a busy stretch with a project and I got the news at about lunchtime, they tried to ‘send me home’ (or whatever you do when someone is already wfh) and I refused as I had meetings to go to! I would have felt fully like a fraud if I’d taken bereavement leave just because it was a few days off that were available to me

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          You don’t know how a death is going to hit until you’re there–I’ve heard of people who’d been estranged being absolutely clobbered (a great surprise to themselves) and people with close relationships whose reaction was “whew, peace, it can’t get worse than the past month” (a great surprise to themselves).

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I think for many that “peace” feeling is most common when there has been a lot of involved caregiving because the now deceased was very ill or died after a long decline.

            1. allathian*

              Absolutely. I’m convinced that’s why I never really feel like mourned the deaths of any of my grandparents. All of them were sick for a long time, and although I wasn’t closely involved in their care at any point, and if I’m honest I was mainly relieved that they had finally passed. I was mainly concerned with not showing my true feelings (or lack of them) in front of my grieving parents. I’m not religious, but even I liked the idea that at least my grandparents were no longer suffering. I have no idea how religious either of my grandfathers were, although my maternal grandma was devout, and my parental grandma found a lot of consolation in church activities, and in her congregation as a community when she lost her husband.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            I had a pretty minimal relationship with my sibling — we fought like cats as children and were only just starting to get over it as adults — and was absolutely fucking sandbagged by their death, partly because it was maximally sudden and unexpected and partly because my grief was very complicated. I wasn’t mourning the loss of our relationship because we barely had one — I was mourning the loss of the possibility of ever having a good relationship, and also feeling like I was not entitled to my grief because we didn’t have a good relationship.

            I actually think that experience was part of why I had such a hard time with the recent death of my dog. Not only was I grieving the loss of my dog, but I find that deaths sort of… stack. You’re not only grieving the latest loss, but remembering the previous times you felt like this. (I also have this fun thing where because of my sibling’s death I am strongly impacted by the death of anyone in the same demographic even if I barely know them, which is why I ended up crying in the bathroom at a wake for someone my partner knew who I’d never met…).

      3. Lonely Aussie*

        Honestly, the amount of logistics depends on a lot the type of pet. Large animals can be really difficult to properly dispose of. (Some large animals like horses also live 30 plus years, that’s potentially a really long time to have as a member of the family)
        I was really lucky to bury my mare on the property she died on but horses can be a really difficult animal to deal with after death. Sometimes you can’t bury on the property, sometimes they die in really inconvenient places off site, sometimes the local council has rules about burial, sometimes the ground is too hard or frozen even if you’re technically allowed to bury them and sometimes the method of euthanasia means you can’t bury them at all or sell the carcass to the knackers. It can take days to get a horse buried and a lot of time organizing it. Out side of burial you have limited options, if they’ve been euthanized by green dream, then you can’t and shouldn’t bury them in a lot of places. Cremation is a thing but it’s expensive and might take a day or two to sort out. Knackers can be organized but they have their own schedules and often prefer a live horse and won’t take anything contaminated by green dream. Donation to a vet school might work if they’re close but you might have to spend a day moving the carcass. I’ve had friends who have spent multiple days post death attempting to deal with Dobbin’s body after a tragic paddock accident or colic episode. Add into it that horses are really good at dying on public/bank holidays or after 5pm on a weekend.

        1. Lonely Aussie*

          Oopse, nesting fail. that was suppose to be a reply to the parent comment. Although with horses, if they’re a competition mount or valuable stud stock there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with an insurance company.

          1. Drag0nfly*

            Just out of curiosity — if you live someplace where people have horses as pets, my assumption would be that businesses in the surrounding community would factor in the problems with dealing with the remains of a horse. Is this not the case where you live?

            As an example, American kids usually get drivers licenses at 16, but in rural parts of the country the age is 14. I thought that was the coolest consequence for my friend after she moved away when we were kids, because she got to drive around at 14 while I still had to wait for 16.

            It never occurred to me that horses might be difficult to bury / cremate, and I no lost touch with another friend who had her own show horse. But what you describe sounds like a logistics issue on par with the headaches you’d have when a relative dies.

            1. Lonely Aussie*

              It really depends on area, if it’s horsey area or has a lot of other farm animals it might be okay, but again, the drugs vets use (as opposed to a bullet, which is my preferred method for a lot of reasons) can seriously limit what you can do with the body. A lot of the dead stock guys local to me don’t like dealing with horses (or horse people) either. Horses need a fairly large and deep hole, dug with machines for burial, although burning the body can also be done but you need to be far enough out of town (because it stinks) and not in a place that has a fire ban (like my part of Aus for big chunks of the year). Places with vet schools, greyhound/hunting hounds or zoos might also be okay as long as the horse was shot and the owner is okay with the horse being eaten by predators or cut up by vet students and you have the means to move the body. (tractor with a loader attachment and some kind of covered trailer)
              I have seen professional cremation bills for horses over 6K, with most of that being transport costs, which if you’ve just spent 20k on colic surgery might be a little out of reach, big specialist ovens needed to deal with a horse so those might only be available in some parts of the state. Basically, if your horse dies, you have 200-800kg of rapidly decomposing meat to deal with and its not a fun time for anyone involved, the longer it sits the harder it can be to depose of. Honestly, the best question horse owners can ask when touring a new property to keep their horses at is what’s the plan for the bodies.

            2. Pippa K*

              In my rural area lots of people have (or have neighbors with) farm equipment that could dig a big hole and move a horse, so horses often get buried on the back field, etc. But not everyone does, so there are a couple of local services that can handle burial or cremation. Even in a rural area where people might be more likely to be unsentimental about livestock, a lot of people would still make special arrangements for a well-loved horse or other large animal.

            3. Dawbs*

              Yeah, my family (extended, i don’t horse I just love ppl who do) generally scared up a neighboring farmer to borrow digging equipment (i cannot attest to how legal these burials are. In fact, in reasonably sure at least one was violating rules). And in another case they rented a backhoe.

              (The frozen ground is its own nightmare. We had to move the planned spot to somewhere that was less overgrown so we could have a bonfire to thaw the ground enough to bury our dog. Digging is therapeutic until it becomes enraging that the pickaxe won’t work.
              We will scrape together the cost of cremation in the future)

      4. The Time Being*

        Honestly I can’t even imagine needing whole days off to arrange for a pet to be cremated. When I let my cat go, the question of her remains was a ten-minute discussion with the vet — do you want us to handle cremation, do you want her ashes, do you want us to take a pawprint first? And then they let me go home and cry my eyes out.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Same here. When my aunt died and I was her executor, I had multiple meetings with the funeral home, selecting an urn from their catalog, arranging for someone to arrange for the funeral (it was out of state and in the middle of winter, so it wasn’t actually done until late spring), etc. For my cat, it was about three questions and done in 5 minutes.

          When I go, I want to be processed like my cat, not my aunt. Other humans do not need to deal with that at the worst possible time.

      5. joss*

        “A pet is more like an extended family member than an immediate one.” I think that is true for most of us. But is it also true for the single person who spend most of the last 20 or so months alone with just their pet for (physical) company? I don’t have pets but I suspect that this is yet another area in life where Covid has upset norms – and tha tis not even taking into account that for the last decade or so the “pets are people too” saying has firmly taken root.

        1. k*

          My understanding of that comment was that it was more referring to the logistics of handling their death? I have had pets who were just as important to me emotionally as close family members, but making arrangements for their remains etc would take much, much less time.

    7. Anon Supervisor*

      I love my pets, but I would not reasonably assume that I would get company paid bereavement leave for a pet. This type of leave is a great benefit for a company to provide, but they’re not obligated to give it for every conceivable loss.

      1. Stitch*

        My sis in law actually lost both her Dad and the beloved family dog in a horrific hit and run recently, and no it’s just not comparable. My brother’s family had to call to get sudden flights and my sis in law, as as executor had a lot to deal with setting up his funeral and dealing with the will and their mom’s finances. They loved the dog, no question, but no, she wouldn’t have been meeting with lawyers and hopping on planes if only the dog had died.

    8. No Dumb Blonde*

      To those of us who have been in the working world for decades, Alison’s answer is not “polarizing.” It’s realistic, mature, and utterly normal. Not once have I assumed my employer should let me, say, enroll my pet on my employer-sponsored health insurance, because I’m an adult who understands the limits of my employer’s responsibility to me.

    9. lyonite*

      When my then-boyfriend’s (now husband) father died suddenly, I wasn’t allowed to use bereavement leave to go to the funeral (several hours by plane). But my manager was understanding about the need for short notice vacation time, which is about as much as you can hope for in this situation, I think.

      1. Purple Princess*

        I had a battle with an ex-boss a few years ago, when my partner’s father died. Because me & my partner weren’t married, his father wasn’t an in-law and therefore I couldn’t take the 3 days bereavement leave allocated for in-law deaths and I’d have to dip into my PTO.. but I didn’t have enough days to take. I tried to explain that my partner & I had been together for over 10 years and that his father was for all intents and purposes my father-in-law (I even called him that), but according to my boss, because my partner & I weren’t married it didn’t count.

        I had to take the days for the funeral (plus travel) off unpaid, but when I returned I asked HR about the situation. Thankfully they understood where I was coming from and allowed the days as bereavement leave instead, but resisted when I suggested they change the policy wording to include immediate family of a significant partner as well as official “in-laws”. I understand the reluctance somewhat; companies don’t want to arbitrate who’s relationship is significant enough to count, but the risk of fraud/people taking advantage seems pretty low, and eventually they relented and changed the policy.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          You got lucky. When my father died, my now spouse had to take PTO instead of bereavement because we’re gay and couldn’t be married at the time. Her workplace was understanding but no one could do anything. (Yes, I’m still bitter.)

      2. ThisIsTheHill*

        I was on a week’s staycation when my husband’s grandfather died. He was one of my favorite in-laws, so I was sad, but he wasn’t an approved relationship for bereavement. When I submitted my timecard, my boss rejected it & told me to use bereavement for the visitation & funeral (2 of my vacation days). Good managers will give you some leeway.

        That said, I am a fur mom of many cats & would never ask for more than a PTO day to pull myself together, & it wouldn’t occur to me to ask for bereavement for so many of the reasons already listed in the thread.

    10. Liz*

      I can see both sides of this one. I completely understand bereavement leave being specifically for human family due to the logistical process surrounding a person’s death, but I do think a little more flexibility could be offered by the management here if the employee is really cut up and struggling to work.

      I do think my the time you start arguing the precise wording of such a policy, it’s going to be a lose-lose. My grad school had a painfully rigid approach to bereavement leave, with certain allowances around missed deadlines and lectures permitted depending on the relationship to the deceased. Loss of a parent would incur a very generous cushion, but one guy in my class lost his grandmother early in the year. The woman had raised him herself so she was his only parent figure, and he was in pieces, but the university WOULD NOT BUDGE. Only 3 days grace permitted for a grandparent, 2 weeks for a parent. The guy ended up dropping out.

      My manager on the other hand has a very flexible approach when it comes to granting leave, or flexing hours. This has absolutely included time off (with pay) to grieve pets, take a cat to be put down, and recover from a night of no sleep after another passed away suddenly on a Sunday evening. Don’t get me wrong, I would not cite this as “bereavement leave” and if I needed to put them down as mental health days, I would have done that, but my manager waived it off. A little compassion goes a long way.

      I do think the company did the right thing by granting her the 25 hours under bereavement leave, but that the employee shot herself in the foot by playing rules-lawyer and trying to claim the full 40. I can’t imagine any company granting official bereavement leave over a pet, but a couple of extra days for mental health isn’t too much to ask. I wonder if the whole discussion might have been avoided if the employee had just been okayed to have the rest of the week off in the first place without eating into PTO. (Or she might have doubled down anyway. Who knows?)

      On a related note, how much annual leave is offered as standard in the organisation? Is the employees reluctance to use PTO stemming from a sense that PTO is in short supply. I’d imagine if I only had, say, a couple of weeks of annual leave and I was being asked to use over a quarter of it because I was feeling crappy after my dog died, I’d probably be clutching at straws to try and squeeze a bit more time off out of my contract, too.

    11. Virginia Plain*

      I’m totally with Alison. Bereavement leave isn’t supposed to cover you until you are done grieving (I can say from experience that five days off is not enough time to get over the death of a parent). It’s for the practicalities. The granting of bereavement leave isn’t a measure of how sad you are, it’s a measure of the time needed to do a lot of logistics. That’s why it’s often less for a less close family member – you have fewer responsibilities. For a close human family member there’s the funeral to arrange, possibly travel, receiving guests, the sheer number of people you have to contact both personal and official (shout out to the U.K. government’s Tell Us Once service which is a blessing). You just don’t have all that work with the loss of a pet. It’s not a value judgement on the genuine love you have for your animal family; just a way of helping you get things done.

    12. Ice and Indigo*

      I think OP1 may also need to deal with the fact that this could be a divisive issue *at work*. Different employees are likely to have different strong opinions if it becomes a debated issue.

      And this can get into very personal stuff. I mean, at one end of the scale, you can have people who’ve very recently lost a beloved parent or spouse, or who have heavy caregiving responsibilities that disrupt their lives in ways no pet could, who may be offended by considering the dog full family – let’s call them the ‘A F*cking DOG???’ contingent*. At the other end, you may have people who, for personal reasons, have closer and more trusting relationships with animals or people, or are unable to have or adopt children and have pets precisely because it’s the closest they’ll get to parenting – call them the ‘furbabies’ contingent. The last thing you want is a war between the two factions.

      I think Alison has the right idea: assume this employee is particularly upset and give her some compassionate leave, update the policy without making a big deal of it, and be willing to be humane and flexible if the issue comes up again. Don’t allow precedent to rule that pets are family members equivalent to humans (that would offend Team A F*cking DOG???), but be willing to allow that some people may need a bit of compassionate leave for a particularly beloved pet as a special circumstance (Team Furbabies), and make sure it doesn’t become a bone of contention in general.

      1. Anonny*

        If I were an employer, I’d allow a day or two’s compassionate leave for the death of a pet (if wanted) just because the employee’s grief may prevent them from doing work and may also cause a distraction in the workplace (or worse, a hazard – some people dissassociate during grief and you really do not want that around stuff like heavy machinery or kitchen tools). Give them a day or two off, paid so they won’t come in anyway because otherwise they’re losing money, and it’s probably more productive (and possibly safer) for everyone. Also, letting them recuperate at home can help the early ‘shock/incapacitated’ phase pass quicker.

        (Like, this is the emotionally coldest possible reasoning. There are other reasons too.)

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Alas, in the US we don’t really have compassionate leave and our time off allotments can be quite stingy.

          1. Liz*

            Is bereavement leave not just another name for compassionate leave, then? Because I was definitely coming at the discussion from that angle. I’ve never really had to take time off for death-related “logistics” but I have been granted an extra couple of days here and there following a bereavement simply because I was tearful and really not a lot of use to anyone. And yes, that includes the loss of 2 cats.

        2. Just Another Zebra*

          My company offers people one day leave for the death of a pet of “substantial and significant age”. Basically, you can use that time for the death of a cat, not a goldfish. There’s grey area (isn’t there always), and it isn’t perfect (because nothing is) but I’ve never heard people complain about it.

    13. Cj*

      Mt pets are absolutely my family. I have taken a PTO day when one died, but would not expect to get bereavement leave.

      My current dogs are 11, 14 and 15 years old. And then there are my six cats. That could potentially be *alot* of bereavement leave in a sort time frame. I can’t imagIne any company giving my 40 hours for each dog that might possibly be gone within a year of each other.

      1. hbc*

        I think that kind of math is a major factor (if not THE major factor) in why companies don’t want to open up their bereavement policies to pets. Most of them are significantly shorter lived than people, and you’re able to have a lot more of them in your life simultaneously.

        This is the kind of thing where I’d rather make an exception to grant leave to someone in an extraordinary situation rather than come up with some complicated metric that is fair for the guy who legitimately loves his pet rats that are lucky if they hit their third birthday. Because you know some jerk who gets his kids disposable hamsters to neglect will be coming for his leave every six months.

        1. Daffy Duck*

          The one thing that supports the “rules lawyering” with this employee is she is arguing for even more bereavement time than she has already (generously IMO) been given even though she has sick/vacation leave available.
          Company rules must be written so they apply to everyone and once HR has to start determining which pets are eligible and which aren’t …. I know adults who become extremely attached to Beta fish and spend more time and energy on them (aquarium on the work desk) than many do with their fluffier companions which were left at home in the before times. They were very broken up when the fish passed away after 3 years as they were expecting it to live for 5. I’ve also known folks who would buy 20 Beta fish and expect 10 weeks off a year.

      2. Sylvan*

        +1 on PTO rather than bereavement.

        My cat died, I got vaccinated, my cat’s ashes were delivered to the wrong place, and then I had to get the ashes and then get vaccine side effects. Super shitty day. PTO.

    14. Koala dreams*

      I’ve been reading the archives, and posts about bereavement leave are often very divisive, even without dogs. Of course, if you expect bereavement leave to be for the grief, you’ll not be happy with three days or even three weeks. Grief can take months or years. I see the leave more for administrative things, funerals or wakes.

      The leave policy in the letter feels like a pretty generous policy. Perhaps the letter writer can suggest adding one day leave for pets, a lot of people would appreciate that. If not possible, well, it’s common to have to take general PTO for family emergencies.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Also, I actually don’t think it’s good to have leave for mentally processing the death. The world can’t stop just because a person has left it. I think that getting on with life is part of the mourning process. When you’re in a truly bad state, you need some time off, but after a point, you’d just be wallowing in misery. So you need to get back to work, and your colleagues need to be extra kind with you as you ease back into the rhythm of it, and one day you’ll realise you can think of the deceased one and be happy that they were in your life, without falling to pieces.

        1. Sylvan*

          Strongly disagree. It might be good for some people to continue working, but that should be something they opt into, not something their employer requires. It is not my job’s place to choose how employees deal with grief, especially in a way that clearly benefits them.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            So after a certain point, it should be considered sick leave for a mental health issue rather than bereavement leave. Surely you can see that this would be endlessly exploited by some shameless employees?
            I mean, I wasn’t my normal self for a good year after the death of my mother. But I had responsibilities, young children to raise, and my father in a state of depression after finding himself a widower. So I picked myself up and ploughed ahead. I don’t think my employer should have to give me a year’s bereavement leave.

            1. Liz*

              But there’s a world of difference between giving someone a year of paid leave and just having the discretion to offer a trusted employee a few days to process and cry and process the initial grief. If the employer worries that someone is taking the mickey, then they can address it with the individual and fall back on policy, but I don’t think it benefits anyone to assume ill intent from the get go.

              1. Koala dreams*

                Perhaps I’m too cynic, but I fear a bereavement leave left to manager’s discretion is too vulnerable to favouritism or the appearance of favouritism. Traditions around death vary depending on religion, culture, jurisdiction, and so on, and it’s easy to imagine how inequalities creep in without any bad intents.

                1. Liz*

                  I mean sure, it’s a possibility, but that’s also why you have the policy in place as a backup if you can’t trust your immediate supervisor to make decent calls. When my cat had to be put to sleep, I got a call from my partner and I literally packed up and left a voicemail for my boss explaining why I’d had to go. I never even questioned whether he’d be ok with it, because I knew the answer, and I was practically home by the time he called me back. As I expected, he was fully sympathetic and wished me the best. As you say, traditions vary, so I don’t see how bereavement leave COULD be handled fairly without some degree of discretion, because one person’s third cousin twice removed might be someone else’s equivalent of “only living relative, we grew up together and I am handling everything”.

              1. Sylvan*

                SlipperY slope.

                Anyway, you’re arguing that allowing employees bereavement leave will lead to them taking massive, indefinite periods away from work. I don’t think so.

          2. Loosey Goosey*

            This. Grieving is different for everyone, and for different relationships. I took PTO for a miscarriage and it was desperately needed for my mental health. I certainly would not have wanted my employer trying to dictate whether my mourning process was appropriate or not.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yes, you took PTO and that is wholly appropriate and a boss that refused you that would be utterly inhuman. I’m really sorry you went through that. Seeing that the baby wasn’t yet a viable human being, you didn’t get bereavement leave either. I would posit that, in a day and age when most pregnancies have been planned or are at least welcomed with joy even when they’re accidental, bereavement leave would be appropriate in such a situation too (maybe after three months, since we all know many women miscarry before that). But that would then be taken as proof from the prolifers that foetuses shouldn’t be aborted so…

        2. Hex Libris*

          I’ve never seen a bereavement leave policy that extends long enough to cover a full mourning process. I’ve rarely seen on longer than a week. Beyond that, people are allowed to judge whether to use their sick leave for mental health after a loss. I’m a bit boggled that anybody would think they could generalize their own experience enough to tell others what’s best for their grieving process.

        3. Here we go again*

          I agree. Maybe something like part time for a week or two, after about a week depending on how much of the final business you have to handle for the deceased. But 3 days after a spouse parent or child dies isn’t enough.
          I worked part time as a college student when my mom died and taking a summer class and working a short shift about 3 days after the funeral really helped me get my mind off of death. (Granted I was making pizzas not preforming surgery or operating heavy equipment.)

    15. Harper the Other One*

      I actually thought the response was brilliant, specifically because it points out that OF COURSE bereavement leave is for logistics, not grief, because no one gets over a death in 3-7 days. That has nothing to do with whether it was a beloved pet or a close sibling or an estranged parent – the processing will last long after the bereavement leave is used up.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      I dearly love my pets. The smaller ones are buried in the backyard.

      I just lost a parent, and since it’s post vaccine we get to gather for a funeral. That’s what the bereavement leave is meant to allow–there are logistics and planning with the death of a parent that take some M-F 9-5 hours, which don’t come up in a pet’s death.

      If someone said “My sibling on the opposite coast had a guinea pig die, so I need a week’s bereavement leave to travel for the funeral” that would be off-putting. Even if you were going to spend a lot of hours on the phone supporting your sibling, reminiscing about Nibbles, etc.

    17. anonymous73*

      I don’t think her advice is divisive, it’s realistic and Alison doesn’t back down from being truthful when it’s needed. OP’s company is being generous by letting their employee use bereavement leave for a pet. And they shouldn’t have to specifically spell out in their policy that it’s for the loss of another human being. Allowing them to take time off to grieve makes sense. But allowing them to use a policy that is implied to be for other humans is extremely generous.

    18. JSPA*

      I bawled like a baby (and nearly crashed the car) driving home from the vet with my dear cat’s body in a box beside me. I took a few “wiping my eyes” breaks at work, and went for a walk at coffee breaks and lunches. I did not demand bereavement leave, and would have been embarrassed to do so.

      Leaving aside the intensity of emotion (which will differ from case to case!) with the cat, there were:

      No death certificates to procure.

      No feverish search for a will or meetings with lawyers.

      No rolodex and address book to scan, no announcements to send out, no funeral or memorial to arrange.

      No credit cards to cancel, no banks or social security to notify.

      No sense of privacy violation in dealing with personal belongings, no awkward items to dispose of, no tax implications of donating items.

      No intrusive questions about the how and the why; no people demanding that I see the process of death in terms of their specific faith tradition or personal philosophy.

      No “tell your —- hi for me” from people at the grocery or around the neighborhood.

      I’d known my cat for 13 of his 16 years. I’d known my parents all of my life.

      Death of a family member–especially if you’re the person handling any of the practical issues, but even if you’re a person supporting someone else who’s handling the practical issues–is enough “more” that it’s pointless to be at work, with all of that “more” intruding.

      If you find that you can’t pull it together for simple grief, minus all of those other factors, it might make more sense to take medical leave and discuss coping strategies with a professional, because life hands most people that level of grief…on a pretty regular basis.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        And there are logistics people don’t think about. Watching someone having to go through their child’s clothing, to pick up what they’re going to wear in their coffin is…not an experience I ever want to go through again.

    19. Koalafied*

      I took bereavement leave for each of my cats the day each was put to sleep. As the policy is intended, I was literally dealing with the logistics of their deaths – the euthanasia appointment, cremation arrangements, and cleaning out their “death beds” – the bedding area where they had spent most of their final weeks, which stank of sickness and medicine, and which I very much did not want to keeping seeing every time I passed that part of the house any longer than necessary.

    20. EMan*

      I’m willing to bet that other employees at OP#1’s company had pets die in the mean-time, but were familiar with the bereavement policy’s wording and never even bothered to ask because pets weren’t mentioned. OP#1 needs to worry about the precedent that has already been set and the precedent that will be set by their decision.

      Also, a pet dog/cat might count but what if someone is really close to their pet rat or hermit crab? Fish? The frequency of bereavement leave, and developing a logically consistent way of dealing with animal bereavement, would be very difficult to manage once this precedent is set.


      Recently dealt with a situation where an Manager X sent Employee A a huge bouquet of roses and a personalized card when the family dog passed away, and Employee B wasn’t given anything when their mother passed away. That was fun…

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Oh yes. Expecting to set policy around pets by species would be full of landmines. How attached an individual is really has nothing to do with how soft and fluffy the species is and much with how much time and energy is devoted to the animal.
        Several experts consider fish to be one of the most abused pet species. There is very little to no social concern for pet fish outside of the serious hobbyists. Fish are complicated pets to maintain if they are to have a full lifetime, and they can be extremely long for many species, but our society generally treats them as disposable.
        Even rabbits (the epitome of soft and fluffy) were considered to only live about 5 years a couple of decades ago, but with our current knowledge of nutrition and care often make it into the teens.

        1. Koalafied*

          How attached an individual is really has nothing to do with how soft and fluffy the species is and much with how much time and energy is devoted to the animal.

          Very astute. As Antoine Saint-Exupery said, “C’est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante.” Or, “It is the time that you’ve lost for your rose that makes your rose important.”

      2. MissCoco*

        I completely agree! Another issue is that it’s likely those people who do deeply love their rats, mice, or fish will know that the policy isn’t *really* for them, and that’s a particularly unpleasant double standard to be reminded of right after the loss of a beloved pet.
        It definitely sounds like the current policy needs some clarification as to purpose and intent, but I absolutely agree with Allison that the point of the leave isn’t only for grief, but for logistics around death

    21. HoHumDrum*

      Honestly I feel like the “pets as family” debate is irrelevant and unnecessary. Every time there’s a question like this people go into the comments to pontificate on normative relationships to pets and how they think other people should feel and none of it is needed. Look, my family is so big that I’ve never even met any of my dad’s cousins or whatnot, but I wouldn’t use that as my barometer on whether other people deserve leave because they’re grieving the loss of their 3rd cousin or whatnot. That’s why policies exist. It’s clear the policy doesn’t cover pets, as most don’t. That’s all that is relevant, not how we think the employee *should* feel. Our individual personal relationships to our pets doesn’t actually matter, and I feel like it only serves as a platform for people to complain and about how they think other people ought to prioritize their emotions

    22. Picard*

      this is why we call ours funeral leave. it also specifies the relationships that are covered. pets are not one of them.

    23. Person from the Resume*

      What struck me about LW#1 is that 40 hours is an extremely generous bereavement leave. Most companies don’t offer that.

      Alison’s answer was of course correct to the purpose of the leave is to deal with with logistics around a death, like organizing and attending a funeral. There’s lots to do (in the midst of grieving) after an immediate family member’s death. For a peripheral family member someone will attend likely still attend the wake, funeral, and perhaps travel for it.

      I agree with the LW and the LW’s boss that this is not intended for pets. i’m not saying that a person won’t be broken up about it, but for a pet there’s just not that level of logistics and travel involved. And the LW’s employee is not understanding the intention of the bereavement leave is for the logistics rather than the grieving process. I think both the LW and boss were fair.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        Yes. When my father-in-law died, I got two days. My spouse, who was dealing with the death of his father and was also the executor, had to take vacation time, because his company offers no bereavement leave at all.

    24. Philly Redhead*

      I doubt this will be divisive. I’m a Dog Person. My dog is my second baby, after my human son. I’m his Person, he’s constantly on my lap, sleeps on the bed in the crook of my knees, and I will be devestated when he passes.

      And I don’t expect that my boss (also a Dog Person) would allow me to use bereavement when he passes.

    25. Sparkles McFadden*

      It’s pretty well understood that bereavement leave is for dealing with the logistics of the aftermath of someone’s death. That’s why bereavement leave is longer for the death of a spouse/parent/sibling than the day or so allowed for attending the funeral of a more distant relative. Your best friend dies? It’s likely you need to take a vacation day or personal day.

      I am writing this as someone who has let staff members rearrange their schedules to deal with getting treatment for a sick pet. You have to take certain things on a case by case basis. But…bereavement leave is for the lost of a human relative.

    26. KayDeeAye*

      The point of Alison’s reply isn’t “Pets don’t matter as much as people.” It’s not “Grief over the loss of a pet is less than that for people.”

      The point is that the death of a pet doesn’t generally involve as many complications as the death of a relative. There’s no estate to cope with, no insurance companies (usually, anyway), no death certificates, no elaborate funeral that requires somebody to notify all the relatives.

      Bereavement leave isn’t about “giving someone time enough to grieve.” Because if you’re truly grieving, a few days, weeks, months or even years may not be enough. It’s about giving someone enough time to get through at least some of the formalities. You might have disliked a parent intensely and not be sad at all that they’re dead, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need some time when they do die to, for example, help your siblings through the funeral and start to make plans for cleaning out that parent’s house. I guess I can’t be sure that this is never necessary with a pet, but it’s definitely not usual.

    27. Lego Leia*

      I think that the issue here is not “are pets important” but “what is the purpose of bereavement leave”. I agree with Allison’s assessement that bereavement leave is to handle the tasks involved with human death, and PTO is for the emotional fall out of any stressful event, incuding the death of a pet. That the administrative tasks that you need time off for also align with fresh grief is more of a bonus than the actual purpose of the leave.

    28. morethanbeingtired*

      Any employer I’ve ever had has been more than understanding and given me time off to deal with the death of pets (sometimes insisting I not come in). This includes retail where managers had to help get my shifts covered and office work where I had to shift projects in order to take time. Sometimes my employers encouraged me to use bereavement leave for it. Sometimes they just didn’t count it towards my PTO. Sometimes I did use PTO. It sort of depended on if my manager had experienced a similar loss of a pet, what my PTO balance was and/or if I’d had any planned PTO coming up. I think if someone’s a good employee and they have plans for all of their PTO for the year and they experience the sudden loss of a pet, that a consideration isn’t unreasonable. I would treat it as family emergency or mental health leave if you really balk at considering it bereavement. I, personally, never needed a whole week off for it but if it was really sudden, unexpected ad traumatic- like if I saw my dog get hit by a car, have to bring it mangled and screeching to the vet and ultimately have to put it down after expensive emergency care didn’t work, I would absolutely understand needing to take time off for mental health.

    29. Beth*

      Yeah. As a non-pet-owner, I would be livid if my pet-owning co-workers were entitled to extra time off for their pets’ funerals. The LW’s employee has PTO that she can take; she does not need the special treatment.

      1. littledoctor*

        I mean. Why would that enrage you as a non-pet owner? I don’t have parents—never have—, but it doesn’t bother me when coworkers have time off to handle their parents’ affairs and make funeral arrangements. I don’t need that leave because it’s not a relationship I have.

        I’m not even saying that bereavement leave should cover animals, but I don’t really get how you not having pets is a factor.

      2. Beth*

        This I don’t understand. Why would you be angry if someone was allowed a day or two of extra leave to handle end-of-life logistics for their pet? Assuming it’s encoded into company policy and not sheer favoritism, that doesn’t seem like ‘special treatment’ to me. (Favoritism would be an issue for a different reason–that would be infuriating no matter what the extra perk was.)

      3. twocents*

        “Livid” over the mere idea of some kind of small PTO for a pet’s death? That seems like a weird reaction.

        A coworker of mine has 12 siblings, all covered under the bereavement policy as immediate family. I’m not “livid” that he potentially will get 11 more weeks of time off than me… Because he would get that because a loved one is DEAD.

        I bucket that into the “respectful benefits that don’t apply to me but represent the company’s treatment of its employees” along with tuition reimbursement, caregiver leave, adoption leave, etc.

    30. Ice and Indigo*

      Reading the letter over, what jumps out to me is that the employee is being … challenging in her attitude as well as her request. She was offered a pretty good amount of bereavement leave for a dog, and rather than accepting that this is generous – because there’s no way most employees would expect that – she instead is fighting it because it’s not as much as she asked for.

      I mean, it’s nice that the workplace culture feels safe enough that she’s confident she won’t get fired for this. And the OP describes her ‘fighting this out of grief and principle’, and it’s great that she’s sympathetic like that. But the fact that the employee seems to be using the workplace as a place to take out her feelings seems like a potential trouble spot in itself.

      From what the OP says, it sounds like it’s less about the actual leave than it is about getting some kind of official validation of the dog’s status. Which is not a great thing to try to force anyone to do, and certainly not appropriate for a workplace. But it’s also something that can escalate if it gets the wrong kind of pushback.

      Alison’s advice is very good for dealing with the professional side, but I wonder if OP may also need to do a lot of politely and kindly refusing to get drawn into a debate about whether a dog counts as ‘family’. If you’ll take a top, OP, be very careful to stay off any discussions that might go down that path, and stick as firmly and nicely as you can to ‘This is what’s going to happen.’

      1. Here we go again*

        Most people’s reaction to coworker’s pet dying is “wow that sucks I’m sorry to hear that you lost your dog. Do you need a tissue?”
        If someone said their parent died you have people offering to cover shifts, take up a collection, donate pto (if the company offers that) take on extra duties for a short time to lighten the coworkers load. They may even bring food over to the persons house or even offer to help clean it. Expecting people to do the same for a pet is out of touch

    31. Momma Bear*

      I have used PTO after the death of a pet if I needed a day to regroup. I have not asked for specific bereavement leave for a pet. I’ve also seen that as leave that allows you to take off unexpectedly. When one of my close relatives died out of state, it was nice to not have to go through the usual hoops to request that leave for sudden travel.

    32. twocents*

      Tbh, I think it’s weirder to have the very first comment be “omg, how controversial.”

      And I say that as someone who loves her dog and would absolutely need a few days. I don’t think it’s controversial that bereavement leave doesn’t apply to pets, or that it’s primarily intended to give you time to deal with the immediate grief and logistics of a death. It’s not to get through the grief, though; anyone who has lost a child I think could pretty concretely say that one week is not nearly enough time to “get over” the death.

    33. A*

      Agreed. Putting the question of whether it should apply to pets aside, I’ve always thought of bereavement leave as being for 1) logistical planning as needed, and 2) to have a little bit of time to work through some of the immediate grief.

      I’ve taken bereavement before, but have not been involved in the logistics. Typically I’m good at compartmentalizing, but death of a loved one is something that I am unable to do so with until the initial shock has started to wane.

      On the pet topic, I don’t necessarily think bereavement should be expected to extend to pets – but I will say that these kinds of choices can really define how employees view their employer. When my first cat passed away I was hit extremely hard, and was working in a strict environment without the ability to WFH and with minimal PTO. It was near the end of the year and I was out of PTO and sick days. I received approval to take a day off unpaid, but couldn’t afford to do so beyond the one day. I spent the next two days doing the best I could to stay focused at work, but was extremely scattered and spent the entire day sobbing silently (open floor plan, very uncomfortable for all parties involved). The owner took me aside and said he was able to offer a one time exception to have three additional PTO days so I could take the time I needed to adjust to the immediate shock. I don’t think employers should be obligated to offer such things, but it really strengthened my loyalty to the employer and feel respected/appreciated as a human being at a time when I really needed it.

  2. Carcarjabar*

    LW2- Do it! This is how my spouse and I started dating. We worked together for 3.5 years- our first date was the week after my last day in that job. Quitting that job was the best decision I ever made, even though I loved it!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      That’s great to hear. I know two people in a comparable situation. One of them quit so they could begin a relationship and they’re now married.

    2. Warmond*

      LW, I’d suggest making clear beforehand that it’s really a date. From the other party’s perspective, it can be awkward or frustrating to meet someone for what is ostensibly a work-based-staying-in-touch-networking-catch-up only to find out that it was actually a cover for a more personal interest.

      1. Boof*

        Yes, sometimes it’s annoying to go into something thinking it’s networking /business and ~surprise~ it’s actually a romantic feeler

      2. JSPA*

        Eh, as minimally as they know each other, it’s not a “nice guy / nice gal” move (in the pejorative sense of, “using a friendship to stealth/guilt one’s way into a relationship”) to have one friend date first. Especially if it would be nice to keep in touch as a work thing.

        Starting with “want to go on a date-date?” then moving to, “want to be professional contacts?” if the answer to question #1 is “no,” can seem more needy (or more like looking for a backdoor way to stay in touch for unrequited romantic reasons), which is going to feel overall skeevier.

        1. Yorick*

          OP’s motive here is dating, not professional networking, so she should be clear about that.

          OP needs to decide first whether this person is an important professional contact in the future that she wants in her network. If so, trying to date this person might be a bad idea.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      LW2, go for it. Once I was laid off, and after HR left that meeting, I told my boss that I was attracted to him. Nothing happened, but I at least tried.
      Not sore grapes, but looking back at the situation with his parents following him to the California position, I see that was a red flag, so I’m glad it didn’t go anywhere.

  3. Zan Shin*

    In my experience bereavement leave is indeed intended for – depending on one’s responsibilities – the logistics of addressing immediate medical, legal, and financial issues and/or attending a funeral or memorial, any of which may involve travel.

    1. Jovigirl*

      If your parent dies and there is no funeral should you still be allowed bereavement time? Bereavement is for mourning.

      1. Zan Shin*

        I didn’t say just for going to a funeral – don’t put words in my mouth – as some folks do, I mourned my mother, acutely, for months, and in fact – since my work was as a RN was with frail elders – ended up taking a three month leave before easing back in part time. I still don’t think “bereavement leave” is meant for that.

      2. Double A*

        The terminology is confusing. Bereavement leave really is funeral leave. You get more time for a closer relative because it’s likely there are more logistics you need to immediately deal with. You will of course be bereaved and grieving during this time, but the purpose of allowing the time is primarily for logistics.

        If bereavement leave were for mourning, then it would be insulting short. Like, you’ve had your five days to grieve your mom, now hop back to it!

        1. Daffy Duck*

          Yes, this. It is for handling the multiple logistics (majority/all required to be done during business hours) surrounding the death of a human and/or travel surrounding the death.
          The terminology is confusing, many people grieve loved ones for years , we aren’t ‘getting over it’ in days or weeks.
          I’m of an age where parents, in-laws, and most older relatives have passed away. I have friends who have lost adult children to accident or war, and others who lost young children. Having to bury a pet is multiple times easier just due to logistics.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Exactly. So much that has to be done during business hours. Such as going down to the newspaper’s office to put in a notice that a will is going to be executed (people have to have a chance to contest it, it was legally required in that state). Or dealing with bank accounts and other such things that can’t be done online or via email.

          2. Anonymeece*

            Exactly. If bereavement leave was really for mourning, then many, many American companies would be suggesting that one should get over the death of a loved one in three days. It’s clear and obvious that this is not the case. Most people instead take the bereavement leave for the immediate logistics, then additional PTO for the grieving, and still come back while grieving, in my experience.

            Allowing PTO for a pet being ill or dying is perfectly reasonable, but bereavement leave is a step too far, I think. And I say this as someone who has mourned some of my pets’ deaths more than certain human deaths in my family.

      3. Oh no*

        That’s interesting since the companies that I have worked for give bereavement for specific family members and the max days allowed is 3. Just barely enough time to get together all the arrangements and services. If employees want extra time, it comes out of their personal time. So I always considered bereavement to be for planning the funeral, not actual grieving.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yup. If it were for actual grieving, it would be months long. It’s for handling arrangements…whatever those may be.

      4. Simply the best*

        If bereavement leave is for morning and I mourne my family members for months, should my company pay for all that time off?

      5. allathian*

        No employer’s going to give you weeks or months of paid bereavement leave. Some people who are unfit to work following the death of a loved one take all the PTO they’ve earned that year, and if that isn’t enough, some go on temporary disability/sick leave, and even take unpaid time off work.

        Dealing with the logistics of the death of a loved one is a lot more than just the funeral. Besides, even if there’s no funeral service, the remains still have to be disposed of somehow, and that takes time. Someone’s also likely to be the executor of the estate, and you’re more likely to be the executor of a close family member’s estate.

        Please don’t get hung up on the word bereavement leave here. The usual amount of leave is anywhere from a few days to a week, in exceptional circumstances longer than that, if the person died when they were traveling abroad and you need to travel to repatriate the corpse. It would be an exceptionally callous employer who’d expect you to be done mourning a close family member in a week or so!

        1. Stitch*

          For a close family member, the week of leave often doesn’t cover everything that needs to be done. When my grandmother died, packing up and prepping her house to sell took weeks of a lot of us working together.

          My sis in law’s Dad died a couple months ago and she’s still having to meet with people about it and help out her mom.

          I was absolutely emotionally gutted for weeks when my dog died, but the reality is we took her to the vet to be cremated and that was it. No lawyers, no selling a house, no worrying about lost income. It’s just not the same.

          1. allathian*

            That’s true. When my grandparents died, I was too young to be involved in the logistics of it. When my maternal granddad died, I was 5, and his death was what made me understand that I’ll never see him or any other person who dies again. I understood later that the estate never went through probate because none of the heirs insisted on it, and my grandmother stayed in the house, so there was no need to dispose of any possessions, except his old clothes, which she probably donated to their church or something. I was 14 when my paternal grandfather died, and that was the same way, my grandma stayed in the apartment. My paternal grandma died when I was 20, but by then she’d been institutionalized for more than 3 years and I knew it was only a matter of time. My dad was the only heir, so it was fairly simple for him to deal with her estate. When my maternal grandma died, I was 25 and studying for my master’s degree. I had a busy schedule, but I was able to take the time to go to the funeral. I don’t remember having to ask for any extensions on coursework, although I did miss a day of lectures because I was traveling. I didn’t have to ask for time off at work, I just asked my employer (retail) not to schedule any shifts for me for those days. My mom and her 7 at the time living siblings handled the logistics of the funeral, and the estate. Most of that was handled by the uncle who lived on the same property.

      6. Caroline Bowman*

        No, bereavement leave is not specifically for mourning. Mourning can take years. Bereavement leave is to deal with immediate fall-out, (yes some of that is emotional, initial shock and sadness of course) and then to work on the various practicalities, funeral or no funeral, of which there are many, all of them awful.

        When my mum died, I called it sadmin.

      7. Artemesia*

        No one mourns the death of a parent or child for a week — it takes years. Bereavement leave is for the tumult and logistics that follow the death of a close relative — including making arrangements and in some cases travel to another city for funeral etc.

        It is outrageous to think that one should get 40 hours of bereavement leave for each pet death — it is entirely reasonable to let someone take a few days PTO when a pet dies. It is the kind thing to do.

      8. hbc*

        Sure, no one is checking up on whether there’s actually a funeral, but no one is making sure you’re actually mourning the loss of the family member.

        There is a general policy to address most standard situations in a way that is not overly burdensome to the employer. Enough time to absorb the immediate shock and grief (even if there is no shock or grief for some reason) and the related logistical issues (even if there are no logistical issues in a particular case) spares people from having to get notes from having to explain themselves during a (usually) hard time. Will some pet deaths that get no bereavement involve more logistics and grief than some human deaths that do? Of course, but that doesn’t mean the policy is unreasonable.

      9. Me*

        It’s really not. As Alison stated it’s only a few days.

        It’s to deal with the logistics around someone’s death. That’s why immediate family leave is typically longer – because you likely have some tasks to do. Non immediate is typically only enough time for the funeral.

        Grieving is a long complicated process – absolutely not what bereavement leave is for. And yes to your question, of course. Even with out a funeral there are logistical and financial things you most likely have to handle. Leave like that is also designed for the most common need – some people will need more some will need less but as long as you meet the requirements you are entitled to it.

      10. fhqwhgads*

        It’s not for mourning. It’s for the logistics of death, which may involve organizing a funeral, attending a funeral, or just generally dealing with practical and legal issues. If there’s no funeral, yeah you still are allowed bereavement time, because you still have to get death certificates and deal with a ton of paperwork.

      11. Momma Bear*

        I think yes, because even if there is no funeral there is paperwork and it can be emotionally crushing.

    2. Jackalope*

      I both agree and disagree. Having time to deal with logistics is important and part of the point of bereavement leave. But a part of it is also mourning time. Obviously if it’s someone you’re close to, you won’t make it through the entirety of your mourning during a couple of days off, or a week, or whatever. But you can get beyond the initial shock and the incapacitating waves of grief that come right after someone died. I remember a few years ago a close family member died and I was off for a week (in this case for the funeral; it was a ways away and that was the shortest time I could take off and make it there and back). Part of that, as mentioned, was to attend the funeral, but part of it was also getting to a point of functionality again. Obviously I grieved my family member for more than a week, but that was the time when I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t function at my job in any meaningful way. When I went back things were still tough, and I had days when I went and cried in the bathroom or what have you, but I could mostly work. Part of the bereavement leave is getting you to that point; not through the whole grief, but through the starting bit.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Indeed – when am old friend died suddenly and unexpectedly, I grieved her for months but was completely nonfunctional for the first couple of days. I couldn’t even boil a kettle.

        I always assumed bereavement leave was for getting over that stage.

        (Fun fact: I was studying part time, and my university only offered exam postponements for parents, children, caregivers or dependents. So I had to spend those shocked initial days studying for and sitting a three-hour final exam. It broke me – I couldn’t function properly for almost a year after.)

        1. Snow Globe*

          But most companies don’t even offer bereavement leave for friends, even though the grief for a lost friend can be intense. Because friends don’t (usually) have to deal with the logistics of planning the funeral, dealing with the estate, etc.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Is that the reason? Or is it the simple convenience of not having to deal with so nebulous a concept as friendship?

            1. kiki*

              I feel that. I also feel like universities in particular are concerned about students “abusing” policies and saying random folks are their friends. Which could happen, and I don’t doubt that it has happened before, but if it’s happening enough to be of concern to policy makers, I feel like there’s a bigger university cultural issue.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              a) I think the reason is the logistics–it’s logistics-of-dealing-with-death-of-a-close-family-member leave.
              b) Any policy designed to fit thousands of people in a company, university, etc, is going to avoid nebulousness. Nor do you want them deciding that you and your mom weren’t as close as Steve and his mom, nor Gladys and her friend Monica.

      2. Flower necklace*

        This is the way I see it, too.

        I didn’t have to do any logistics when my dad. Absolutely nothing. My mom handled everything – literally all I had to do was show up to the funeral. But I couldn’t have taught a class of teenagers for a few days after he died. That’s a given. It’s also why I took time off when (a few months prior) he was in the hospital on a feeding tube and expected to pass away any minute. I couldn’t be at work during that time.

      3. anonymous73*

        While I do agree that it is helpful with the initial stages of grief, in the company’s eyes it is mostly for logistics. Every place I’ve worked specifies that bereavement leave is for immediate family members (parent, grandparent, child, spouse, etc.). There are generally other relatives and close friends that are not included in the policy, because while you may be grieving their loss, it’s less likely you will be involved in any of the logistics. A manager that treat their employees like humans and not robots will generally allow for more time off, but not as part of company policy.

            1. Jackalope*

              No, it just assumes that you’ll be beyond the first extreme waves of grief enough to be able to function in a work setting.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yeah,/ that’s not how we’ve had it interpreted with my employer. A part of it is for logistics, sure, but every time I had to take it my supervisors have indicated that it was also to deal with the “shock grief” stage as well.

          2. Pikachu*

            Bereavement policies usually include immediate family at the very least, because those are the people that are most likely legal next of kin and can make decisions.

            For example, funeral homes will not cremate bodies without written authorization from legal next of kin. Getting this authorization is a Big Deal. If there is no spouse/partner, children are next in line. If there are multiple children, it doesn’t default to the oldest–a majority of them must authorize cremation before it happens. If it’s a group of siblings with no parents or children, a majority of the surviving siblings is required. In the death of a child, both parents must authorize.

      4. kiki*

        Having a comprehensive bereavement leave policy is tricky because every person and their relationships are different. I think, as Alison said, the policies are at their core are designed to be time off to deal with logistics; the distinction of immediate family vs. peripheral relationships isn’t supposed correlate to how close you to feel to them or how long you’re allowed to be sad, but how likely it is you’d be responsible for dealing with arrangements. But it would be foolish not to recognize that most people also need time off to emotionally process a death of a loved one, family member, or friend. And in the US at least, a lot of companies don’t provide their workers with all that much PTO, so requiring folks to take time out of that bucket may seem a bit heartless. I’ve been lucky enough to work with mostly humane HR departments who offered additional PTO beyond the official allotment of bereavement time.

        All that being said, I think 25 hours of bereavement time is quite generous for a pet and pushing for 40 seems a bit out of touch. But at the same time, I think I would personally take a full week of PTO for the passing of my beloved cats (not to get into it, but they honestly are the reason I’m alive today).

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I think one could argue that this does apply to a pet to some extent. There may be vet visits and end of life care and goodbyes. You may be responsible for burying your pet (I drove 2 hours to bury my cat at my parents house). It was sudden and upsetting and the grief is very real.

      But I’d also argue that 40 hours isn’t necessary, and any employer granting 8-20 hours (1 or 2 days) paid bereavement for a pet is very generous to offer this benefit to employees, especially nowadays when many people don’t have big families.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, one day for logistics is totally fair. The full week that this employee demanded is way, way more than anyone needs for *logistics* for a pet.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      When my mother’s husband was dying, my boss got that covered as “bereavement leave” by saying “step-parents count,” even though I hadn’t said “stepfather”: he hadn’t helped raise me, and they met after I moved out of parents’ house.

      The reasoning wasn’t “Gollux must be more upset that she’s saying.” It was “Gollux needs to be there to support her mother,” which was true. Visiting mourners, however welcome, are still visitors, and needed at least something to sit on, and cups or glasses to drink from. And being there meant I could sit with the body while we waited for the men from the funeral home to arrive, so my mother didn’t feel guilty about getting up to use the bathroom.

      I was prepared to use vacation time and/or take the time unpaid, but those three extra days of paid leave were welcome.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Our company allows parents/stepparents/in-laws as well as spouses/partners, siblings, and children.

  4. Sami*

    I would need a few days off whenever my beloved dog passes away. She’s 15 and I generally good health, but who knows?
    She’s my best friend, my little sweetie, and my whole heart. <3
    You’ll never guess her name. ;)

    1. Blomma*

      I call my cat my whole heart too She chose me when she was a kitten and I am fully aware that I will be a complete mess when she passes. (Hopefully many years from now!) I know will need to take PTO, but I wouldn’t expect to use my bereavement time for that.

    2. Pennyworth*

      When my dog goes, I’m more likely to need time off when she is in her final days and needs me with her all the time. When she is gone I think being at work would be better for me, rather than being at home aware of her absence 24/7.

    3. Bucky Barnes*

      My cat had cancer for about a year before she passed. During that time, I had to take her to a number of vet appts, much more than her usual annual physical. I used vacation time for those appts. When she eventually passed, I took a couple of days of sick leave because I was mentally no shape to work. Even my cat-hating manager was fine with that.

      1. ohhey*

        I am jealous. My animal-hating manager said “who gives a s” and would not give me PTO. I no longer work there.

      1. StudentA*

        Exactly. I haven’t seen any comments against taking PTO to grieve anyone’s deaths.

        This thread is clogged with hundreds of comments about how much people love their pets, how their pets are like family, how they’ll surely grieve when the sad day comes, etc. That’s not what the letter is about. It’s about the policy of bereavement leave, not PTO.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I will need a day or two off when it’s time to say goodbye to our dog. He’s my first dog and my favorite cuddle buddy in the whole world. But I would not expect it to fall under bereavement leave.

  5. Dogs rule Cats drool...lol*

    Letter #1 breaks my heart. I am single with two dogs. I have no close family and no real friends. When I lost my last dog, I was heartbroken and emotionally spent. I was unfocused and unable to work after the loss of my dog who got me through my divorce after my marriage of 20+ years fell apart. I was able to use PTO, but to deny a copy of days of bereavement time for the loss of a pet is unconscionable to me. Why do people think the death of a pet is so trivial? Everyone talks about work/life balance, well owning a pet is part of that and should be respected. I work with people who get all kinds of accommodations for their children, but heaven forbid I take a couple of hours at the end of the day once a year to take my dog to the vet (of which I ALWAYS use PTO). I’m team pet on this one.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Absolutely agree. I can’t see why a company simply can’t grant a few days of leave for personal loss.

    2. Double A*

      I used PTO to take my kids to the doctor (or whatever), just like I use PTO to take my pets to the vet. Sometimes I’ve been able to flex time for both children and pet things. I don’t just, like, get extra time off because I have kids.

      1. Donna*

        But some companies do give extra time, and the commenter’s is one of them. They’re speaking to their own experience, not yours.

    3. SS Express*

      People don’t think the death of a pet is trivial – they think it is unlikely to involve the kind of admin that the death of a human family member often involves.

      1. AthenaC*

        This. Animals don’t have property in their name, they don’t have estate logistics, etc. No one is saying the death of a pet is “trivial” but the fact of the matter is there’s minimal administrative work to be done upon the death of a pet. THAT is what bereavement leave for human deaths is for, as Alison pointed out.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes. We can all recognize the grief that comes with the death of a pet, but you don’t have to call your pet’s relatives and dig through your pet’s house to find the will.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Yes but many people don’t have to do that either. If Dad passes, Mom will often take care of everything. So why does adult kid #4 get bereavement if they have no part in any of the logistics? Because grief/shock.

          1. Lurker*

            Adult kid #4 may have the logistics of travel, figuring out what to wear, etc. I don’t live within driving distance of any of my immediate family and, although I wasn’t involved in the *logistics* of my grandmother’s funeral (for example) or settling her affairs, having five days of bereavement leave was very helpful. Two days of travel, one day for the visitation/funeral, and the day before/after to help my mom with things like going through photos for the visitation, writing thank yous, cooking/organizing food for visitors. You don’t need all that for a pet.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      Not sure what you’re talking about regarding special accommodations for parents. I take PTO for kids doctor appointments, no school days, etc. I don’t get any extra days off, it’s the same standard 2-4 weeks vacation or sick leave that all employees get based on tenure.

    5. Kitty K*

      It’s not that it’s trivial. It’s that it’s just not the same thing as losing a close family member, abd it doesn’t bring with it the same logistical issues that bereavement leave is intended to allow for. You don’t need to register the death of a pet. You don’t need a funeral director. You don’t need to meet with the lawyer, or file paperwork relating to the estate. You don’t get appointed executor.

      In other sites, it’s about practicalities not emotions. Some pet owners, sadly, seem to take this as an attack on them, which is both unfortunate and unreasonable. No one is saying you shouldn’t be able to grieve. But that’s not the purpose of bereavement leave, and to try to claim that it should be allowed for pet deaths is to show a lack of comprehension of how these things work.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Is it?

        Is there some official rule that says that bereavement leave is for practicalities only, and that if you don’t have to deal with the practicalities but are merely too shocked and sad to think, you have to take PTO or come to work?

        I suspect it’s actually for both practicalities and to get over the initial intense stage. And the death of a pet involves some small practicalities to do with disposing of the body and effects, and definitely can involve intense emotion.

        1. Kitty K.*

          I mean, it’s not an “official rule” because that’s just not how these things work. It’s a norm. It’s generally understood in a professional capacity. It’s just how it is. If you don’t get that, I’m not sure what to tell you!

          The reason we don’t distinguish between those who don’t have to deal with the practicalities and those who do when it comes to human family members is again simple practicality itself. It would be unreasonable, unkind and unworkable to make people explain their role, relationship and specific responsibilities in the wake of a loved ones death every time. So we have general categories that try to allow for as many people as possible to have what they need. If a few people get bereavement leave they didn’t need for the practical stuff, it’s not the end of the world.

          Many people will certainly be dealing with the initial intense stage of grief during this, but that is simply not the intended purpose. Indeed, for many, bereavement leave will occur during the early stage when there is numbness and shock, not during the intensely emotional period that often follows. People grieve in so many different ways, and there are so many different timeframes and expressions, that workplaces cannot assign bereavement leave on that basis. It simply is not practical. So the fact that emotional experience correlates with this does not indicate purpose or meaning. It can’t, from a professional perspective.

          1. Jackalope*

            I am not arguing that the employee should get bereavement leave, but I also disagree with your summary that it’s only for logistics. At all of the places I’ve worked where I saw it being used, it was considered to be at least in part for the emotional shock of a loved one’s death in the first little bit after they died. Furthermore we’ve had many people write in to this site talking about how they needed to take some time off for the death of close family members and friends immediately after their deaths and how they had either very positive experiences with supervisors letting them do so or extremely negative experiences with not being allowed to do so. Many of the people who posted in comments didn’t indicate that they needed the time for logistics except maybe a funeral; they just needed to move on from shock. I know that anecdata isn’t scientific data, but I’m surprised so many people are assuming that a) there’s only one reason bereavement leave could be offered and it’s irrelevant to the emotional effects of a death, and b) if someone is offered a few days to deal with their initial grief, this is insulting because it means that the powers that be think you finish grieving in three days or a week, instead of thinking it gives you a chance to move through the earliest hard times and then deal with the rest of the grief outside of work.

        2. Mia*

          Do you expect to get parental leave when you buy or adopt a new pet too?

          Or do you understand that, despite the fact that the leave policy does not (one assumes!) state “a human child”, do you understand the basic norms here? And if so, why don’t you understand them when it comes to bereavement leave?

          1. ceiswyn*

            I don’t expect parental leave when adopting a new pet, but that’s partly because a new pet and a new human have very different needs and levels of need.

            And partly because getting a new pet is a thing I am doing purely to benefit myself, rather than an act that is essential for the long term survival of humanity :)

            1. Isla*

              I think you have missed the point of the analogy. But I’m glad to hear you are not unreasonable on this issue, at least.

            2. meghan c*

              I mean, overpopulation with limited resources is a significant contributor to climate change and what will eventually be the extinction of humanity, but go off…

            3. Yorick*

              Exactly. Dead family members come with different levels of things to take care of than dead pets do, too.

        3. Colette*

          It’s time to deal with practicalities and support other family members who are grieving. When my dad died, I wasn’t the executor. I didn’t organize the funeral. But I did fly across the country for the funeral, and babysit my devastated niece so that others could do those things.

          If there’s no funeral, you still might need to support others – and yes, you might need to mourn yourself.

          But the leave isn’t intended to cover the entire period of bereavement, because it can’t.

        4. anonymous73*

          Saying that bereavement leave isn’t for practicalities assumes that I should have been over the death of my mother in 3 days. Losing a pet is not trivial, but if people are expected to be able to use bereavement leave for an animal, where does it end. Do you also want parental leave for pet adoption?

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            I know many people who take PTO for pet adoption. And if bereavement leave is for logistics, then why grant it to people who have nothing to do with the planning of the services? What about those who have no services? Bereavement leave is for the grief shock and logistics. Many people commenting here about all the logistics seem to think everyone is involved in funeral planning, death issues, etc. Many people are not. My mother handled the funeral for my father. If a nibling passed away, their parents took care of the services.

            1. Ice and Indigo*

              I think it’s because of playing the odds – which is how policies generally work. If a parent, spouse or sibling dies, well, not everyone will be involved in the logistics, but a fair number of people will be – and for those people, demanding that they prove it, at a time when they’re in shock and very busy, would be cruel. Better to let a few people take leave that they won’t use for logistics than demand someone who’s just been widowed justify themselves to an unsympathetic manager.

          2. Orora*

            I didn’t get over the loss of my 22-year-old cat in 3 days, either. But having a few days of leave gives the initial shock and grief a little time to dissipate somewhat. I didn’t help plan my father’s funeral or comfort my brother, but I took those bereavement days because I needed time to process what it meant for my Dad to no longer be living. Two years later, I’m still processing, but it’s not the same as the initial shock, so I don’t need that time now.

            Under these bereavement leave policies, I’d get more time off for the death of my stepbrother (who I haven’t seen or talked to in 5 years) than for my cat, who is with me every day, when I’m happy or sad. We need to sincerely think about how we define “family”.

            To answer your other question, honestly for those who do not have children, a “new family member” leave of a day or two would be nice to get a new pet acclimated. For those of us who can’t or choose not to have children, our pets ARE our immediate family. No, we didn’t birth them, but I didn’t birth my brother either, and unlike my brother, I see my cat every day for multiple hours a day (even more so for the past 19 months).

        5. Allonge*

          The thing is, there are a couple of thousand life events that come with intense emotions and some practicalities to handle, all made easier by not having to work but getting paid.

          A breakup when the other person moves out and you need to rearrange the apartment. A break-in and the following clean-up. The broken pipes my neighbors are having right now don’t sound that much fun either. The teenage son of one of my coworkers was thrown out of his school.

          People should be able to take leave for all this! It’s just that bereavement leave does not cover it by definition.

        6. Falling Diphthong*

          Part of the POINT of having a consistent policy applied across the company (or other large organization) is that we recognize it would be bad for the company to be evaluating “Are you really the best person to handle the logistics, or do you have another relative who can step in while you focus on the third quarter figures?” “Are you really immobolized by grief? Let’s consider the details of your relationship with the deceased.”

    6. TPS reporter*

      Agree with these comments that it’s not trivial it’s just not in the narrow bereavement bucket. I love my cats, I have been devastated at their passing. However, I do think taking PTO makes sense. Other things that are not trivial but not under traditional bevearement: break ups, divorce, close friends losing someone they cared about, election results. We are humans and there are a lot of things that happen in life that effect us. PTO policies should be generous enough to account for these things.

      That being said if you want to case by case give some extra time for certain circumstances you can as a manager, and you have to think about how that will effect your team going forward.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, if someone takes bereavement leave for a close friend, great-aunt Mabel, their dog, two guinea pigs and their canary, their long-term relationship and the previous presidency all in the same year, their colleagues taking none of this might end up jealous.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      They are giving the employee 25 hours. That sounds fairly generous to me.

      Treating the death of a pet differently than the death of a human is not saying the pet’s death is trivial.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah, but the only limit to the number of pets you can have is the amount of space you have, so what do you do with the employee who has 15 guinea pigs three dogs and five cats? They’d be needing bereavement leave several times a year just for the guinea pigs, since they don’t live much more than a couple of years.

      1. MissCoco*

        I see your point here, and I know this isn’t it, but a well-cared for guinea pig is likely to live 6-8 years.

        Whether a pet is short lived or long-lived, I agree that PTO is a better type of leave to use when coming to terms with a beloved animal’s death.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes, you’re right, I realise I underestimated because of my BFF whose guinea pigs don’t seem to last as long, but she only takes rescues which obviously are mostly not babies.

      2. comityoferrors*

        There’s no limit to the number of family members you can have, either…My employee had an unfortunate year in which she lost four family members, and we allowed her bereavement leave every time because of course we did. Her situation is exceptional, but so is the strawman pet owner with 23 animals who are all constantly dying.

    9. Lady Glittersparkles*

      But she did get 25 hours of bereavement leave though.
      I agree with commenters that are saying bereavement leave is really for logistics and maybe for adjusting from the initial shock of the loss. I’ve always had pets that I very much consider to be part of my family, they are my furbabies in addition to my human baby. I’ve lost pets, and I’ve also lost a parent and a sibling. All were devastating in their own ways but the pet deaths were not comparable to human deaths that required travel, final arrangements, obituaries, etc. Not to mention the decades-deep family conflicts that seem to erupt when someone passes.
      Losing a fur baby is devastating and it is not the same.

    10. kittymommy*

      I agree. I’m in the same boat and I have buried my entire family as an adult and I had more issues when some of my pts died that when a couple of my relatives did (and yes, I was the only one dealing with everything). Why can’t we just give grace to the employee during a bereavement period, regardless of the relative, and assume that they know what they need to do during that time frame?

    11. Wren*

      Personally, I lost a close member of my family earlier this year and am offended that you would compare my relationship to my sibling to your relationship with your dog.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        I’m offended you would assume your grief is “more” or better than someone’s grief over losing their beloved pet/fur family member. Your loss is not more important or better–grief is grief, pain and loss is pain and loss. One is not better or worse than the other, it just is.

    12. StudentA*

      I don’t think most people believe pets are trivial. But bereavement leave was never intended for animals. If it was, your payroll department would get much busier. What are we supposed to do with pet fish? Birds? People will claim all kinds of things. It’ll be their friends pets, squirrels, whatever. And if a company challenges them, the employee will attack with, well, why Fido but not my best friends guppie? He was like family.

      As with everything else, standards are to be set. I get that some people are prioritizng compassion, but that’s not always the right thing to do.

      The LW was compassionate yet professional. Alison’s advice was on the money.

  6. AcademiaNut*

    With bereavement leave in general, I think it’s a common misconception. There’s an astonishing amount of work that needs to get done when you’re the next of kin or close kin of the deceased. I got two weeks of bereavement leave when my Dad died. The first week was about the funeral – physically getting to the location, then arranging viewing and cremation details, planning the funeral, writing and sending out the obituary and notifying people, handling phone calls and greeting relatives as they flew in, the funeral itself. The second week was mostly helping my mom with all the practical paperwork stuff – dealing with cancelling/returning official documents like the passports, sending notifications to various professional organizations, moving all the mortgage/utility/credit card/investment stuff to my mom’s name only, paperwork for their pension plan and extended health care plans (which came through his retirement account), dealing with the will. And that was a fairly simple situation with a surviving spouse, a proper will, and a relatively simple financial situation.

    If an employer does offer bereavement leave for a pet, it’s more likely to be a day or less, because the logistical issues of dealing with a pet’s death are considerably less than for a human.

    1. Viette*


      As the answer says, it’s “time to deal with logistics around a death”. I would expect if you were to give bereavement leave after the death of a pet it would only be a day or two for logistical purposes as above.

      For everyone replying, “how could you expect me not to grieve my pet, when my dog dies I will be devastated,” it’s not as if people are not devastated by the death of a human family member. The OP is not refusing ongoing bereavement leave because she doesn’t think the person is grieving.

      1. Boof*

        yeah if it’s for time for emotional grief/recovery, bereavement would have to be like… at least 6 months, potentially?

    2. hamsterpants*

      I think people are getting too fixated on the dictionary definition of “bereavement.” (not you specifically!) Yes, a literal synonym would be “grief” leave but you have to remember that business speak is all about euphemisms! They’re not going to call it “paperwork and corpse logistics” leave!!

    3. bereavement leave nightmare*

      I have to second this – I love my dog and I will be devastated when he passes (hopefully many years away), but it won’t be the logistical nightmare that a human death can be. One of my immediate family members fell off a cliff at a national park far from home and I was their only next of kin physically able to travel to get their remains from a crematorium and belongings from the park and return them home. While I was doing that, the other family members were sorting out finances, arranging the funeral, dealing with the press, etc. I ended up taking 10 days to deal with all of this, but I certainly wasn’t magically healed from grief at the end of it. I did take a personal day here and there afterwards because I was grieving and needed a mental health day – but this came from my sick time, not bereavement leave.

    4. Anonymeece*

      Yes, this. My mom was an only child and her dad wrote an unofficial will that left everything to her. Unfortunately, he just wrote, “To my daughter”, not her name. It took MONTHS for her to unravel all of the logistical problems caused by that little problem.

    5. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

      Yeah, I’ve had a grandparent and a great-grandparent die in the last five years, and in both cases the person who was managing the estate had work far beyond the standard bereavement leave allowance. (Fortunately, neither was sudden, the grandparent as executor was retired, and the parent as executor had a very generous PTO arrangement.) Sure, there can also be the initial emotional shock aspect involved in bereavement leave, but the immediate logistics of dealing with a body, death certificate, canceling or redirecting mail and bills, notifying all the people who have to officially be notified, let alone family members and friends and funeral arrangements… it’s deceptively massive, even if you have no funeral and no will to deal with, and people who aren’t the executor might still end up helping out with the second-tier tasks. (Notifying family and friends as details become available, clearing the house, providing food and support to the person who’s too busy making eight hundred calls to cook.)

  7. Jovigirl*

    I wouldn’t expect my employer to give me bereavement time for a pet. However, I think this is something that should be considered, especially in the age of ESA’s. Some people have pets and some have four legged children. The death of my ESA (an actual ESA) broke me. I couldn’t function for days. Some people in my office understood and others thought it was over the top. Who are we to judge who someone is grieving for. Bereavement leave shouldn’t have strings attached.

    1. allathian*

      You’ve misunderstood the point of bereavement leave, as has been said in numerous posts above. Bereavement leave is to deal with the logistics of a death, and the immediate shocking grief that often leaves people unable to work. Not the ongoing grief, which can take weeks or months to process.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Yes – the immediate shocking grief that can be for an animal family member just as much as a human one. A shorter leave to deal with that would seem sensible, wouldn’t it?

        1. Liz*

          That’s the point I’ve been trying to make. When I took a day after losing my cat, it was because I was too teary and unfocused to work. I have no idea what my boss coded it as, he just told me to take a couple of days off.

      2. Starbuck*

        I think Jovigirl actually made a pretty compelling case for why bereavement leave would be the appropriate category for their situation, even as you define it.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think that time off for the loss of an ESA or service animal would more reasonably fall under sick leave / FMLA or equivalent. To the extent that there are logistical hurdles to negotiate in that case, they chiefly have to do with the survivor’s ongoing health and care, not funeral arrangements or legal/financial formalities.

      It’s not a question of whether a person would be devastated by a death, but how an employee’s absence should be coded. Good employers will be flexible enough to accommodate their employees’ needs.

    3. hamsterpants*

      For an proper service animal I think the argument could be made that the logistics are significant. If you’re blind and your seeing-eye dog passes away, then of course you should have leave to deal with the issues.

      At least in the US, though, most pets are kept for purpose of emotional support (regardless of whether their owners bought them the vest). ESAs shouldn’t be treated as exceptions because they already represent the typical case.

      1. Starbuck*

        Emotional enrichment or fulfillment provided by a typical pet is actually not quite the same level as an ESA; that’s why a doctor’s note is needed in most cases to declare a pet an ESA.

        1. snakpak*

          I’m one of the professionals who consistently gets asked for support letters for ESAs. In my experience, the vast majority (over 85%, I’d estimate) are people with regular old pets who don’t want to pay pet deposit/rent or want to own a pet in a place where their landlord disallows it. I’ve never once had someone able to answer a question about how their ESA is significantly different from a pet. In the vast majority of cases, ESAs are absolute bunk.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            ESAs are there to assist people with emotional needs. They help people function. It’s not bunk at all. Yes, ESAs can be pets–that’s fine. Their presence aids somebody to face life.

            1. comityoferrors*

              +1. My ESA helped me control the severe dissociation I experienced as part of my PTSD. She also kept me from taking my own life, over and over and over and over. I would not be here without her.

              I know a lot of people claim unnecessary ESAs to skirt the rules, and those people suck, but that doesn’t mean the entire concept is bunk. Shitty people exploit things that are genuinely necessary all the time but people will continue genuinely needing those things either way.

          2. Starbuck*

            ESAs themselves don’t have to be significantly different from pets – it’s about the person’s diagnosis and how it’s alleviated by an animal. The animal doesn’t need to have any special training to be a helpful aid.

            And P.S., as someone who’s own diagnosis that would qualify me for an ESA and also makes it incredibly difficult to do the appointment & paperwork etc processes of life (and earn money!!), the firm external motivator of a landlord with unreasonable restrictions or fees would probably be the motivation I needed to initiate the approval process. But it’s great to hear it makes me seem like a faker!

  8. Rev A02*

    LW#1, of course many pet owners consider their pets as children, but they are not children so there’s no case to argue. For the company’s policy it doesn’t need to be as specific as to mention ‘humans’; it could give those covered, e.g. spouses, parents, children and grandparents.

    1. Jovigirl*

      There are people in my life I would grieve more than my own family. Bereavement time should not have strings attached.

      1. allathian*

        It’s not bereavement time, it’s logistical time, as has already been said multiple times. Why do you keep harping on this? Some employers do grant longer bereavement leave in cases when, for example, an employee was raised by their grandparents and said grandparents die. But if you’re the executor of a friend’s will who doesn’t have any close kin, it’s up to the employer whether you get bereavement leave or have to use PTO to handle the execution of the will.

        1. ceiswyn*

          Now you’re contradicting yourself. If bereavement leave is for dealing with logistics, the qualifying factor ought to be whether you have logistics to deal with, not the closeness of the family member.

          Maybe companies need to spend more time thinking through what bereavement leave is actually for, in their opinion, and then make restrictions and qualifiers that actually reflect that?

          1. Virginia Plain*

            I think that’s why one gets more time for a close family member as one is more likely to have responsibility for practical arrangements.
            Mind you it works differently for me (U.K. govt worker) – we apply for special leave that is not knocked off our annual leave allowance, as needed. It starts with our judgement and our boss signs it off if reasonable. So I asked for a week when my father died (to help Mum with logistics) and took a couple annual leave for the funeral itself, but when my aunt passed away I asked for a day to attend the funeral. I would imagine a day would be granted for a pet if requested; after all they have burial/cremation too. It also counts for domestic emergency such as, it’s January and my boiler has packed up I need to wait in for the gas fitter as I’ve not heating or hot water.
            Then again I am viewing this through the prism of much more paid leave than in the US; I guess there you might be scratching around for PTO.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            There is a reason no one is hopping up to agree “What if companies instead had a committee to solemnly weigh each claim of bereavement, and decide whether it warranted 1, 3, or 5 paid days off?”

            In some families Aunt Gladys is the executor but a bunch of legwork was outsourced to Aunt Susan and Aunt Helen, and parsing that and whether Aunt Susan needs 40 hours or should really be more like 35 is not a thing companies should be asked to judge.

          3. Yorick*

            “Closeness” doesn’t refer to the quality of the relationship. It refers to the likelihood that you’ll have to do paperwork and errands related to the person’s death.

        2. Jovigirl*

          I’m harping on it because I think bereavement time should be about mourning and not just logistics.

          1. Tali*

            Then bereavement time would have to be for months or years.
            Even in that case, I don’t know if I want companies investigating how much a worker mourns their loved one. “Please provide proof of your closeness with your mother so we can approve your leave.” “Sorry, your spouse cheated on you so you shouldn’t mourn that long.” “A pet is not the same as a family member so your mourning leave is denied” etc.

          2. Drag0nfly*

            If you actually think mourning is the point, then why do you think people only get leave of 3 days or a week for *relatives*? How do you reconcile those two views?

            Most people mourn for months and years after the deaths of their family members. This is the norm. And yet it’s also the norm for there to only be a few days bereavement period. So reconciling *those* two facts leaves you with the conclusion that the period has nothing to do with mourning, and everything to do with dealing with the admin details after the death of a person.

          3. Javiera*

            I am frankly amazed that you are capable of mourning someone you loved in the three days of bereavement leave allowed. My father died over ten years ago and I am still mourning him. Should I still be on leave from my work? Please, teach me your secrets of superfast mourning that allows me to get over a death so fast that I can fit it into my work-approved leave days and be over it.

            1. Starbuck*

              Jovigirl has spelled out pretty clearly in other comments that it’s about the initial shock phase of mourning, where you’re not really functional at all. Nowhere in her comments does she say it’s to complete the entire mourining process. I’m surprised at how unkind and aggressive the responses have been to the suggestion that bereavement time could be used to accommodate that!

              1. Yorick*

                Even that initial shock lasts longer than 3 days. When my mom passed, I was so busy dealing with arrangements that I didn’t even get into the initial grief with unbearable waves of sadness until a little later.

                1. Tess*

                  For some people, the initial shock can be over in a day or two, depending on one’s relationship with the deceased. Anecdote isn’t generalizable.

          4. Allonge*

            I suppose you get to think whatever you want – and obviously some mourning is happening in the bereavement leave days, it’s not like life neatly separates into ‘admin duties’ and ’emotions’ days. No company can afford to pay anyone for all the ’emotions’ days though.

            1. MissElizaTudor*

              You’ve said this multiple times, but giving people the slightest benefit of the doubt, I hope you can realize no one is saying that.
              However, bereavement leave can be (and is, imo) partially for getting past the initial shock that leaves people debilitated and unable to function. If the amount of time someone gets isn’t long enough for that, I’d argue that we don’t offer people enough bereavement leave, not that it isn’t part of the purpose of said leave.

              1. anonymous73*

                Yes I’ve said this multiple times, to people who are harping about bereavement leave being only for mourning.

      2. hbc*

        Most company benefits have strings, it’s just a fact of life. I have personally made an exception* to our policy because all life doesn’t fit neatly in the box, but it would be madness to just say “Take as much time as you need for any living being.

        *3 year old niece died tragically, one day was completely insufficient.

      3. EPLawyer*

        Employers attach strings. Period. EVERY policy is basically strings. Parental leave is not time to be a parent for as long as it takes to be a parent. It’s a few weeks (in the US) for the mom to get over the physical aspects of getting birth, bond with the kid, get used to having a kid at home, and then set up the logistics of care while mom returns to work.

        Employers have work that needs to be done. They cannot just give people all the time they want to deal with their personal lives. So they set time off policies with restrictions.

      4. Colette*

        So people should be able to take bereavement leave whenever they wish, for whoever (or whatever) they wish? If I find out the barista at the local coffee shop passed away and I miss seeing her every morning, I should be able to take a week off? If my goldfish dies, I should be able to take a week off? If I hear about a local child dying of cancer, I should be able to take a week off?

        Some people will absolutely take advantage of policies if they’re not defined, and some won’t take leave they should take. Defined policies are good things (as long as the definitions are reasonable).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Defined policies are a good thing. Defaulting to “people the manager really likes get months of bereavement leave; if the manager finds you kind of annoying you get none” is not a good system.

          1. Colette*

            Sure, but no one is suggesting it is.

            The comment I replied to was “Bereavement time should not have strings attached.”

      5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        But where do you draw the line? If you lose three guinea pigs, your BFF and two partners in your polyamorous setup, that’ll make a lot of bereavement leave…

      6. librarianmom*

        Sorry, but of course bereavement time has strings attached. It is a benefit given, not some sort of civil right. The employer has every right to define what they are giving as a benefit. Generally speaking, this type of leave is so one can deal with the initial shock, gather with friends and relatives to grieve and have a funeral of a close relative. It was kind and generous of LW’s employer to allow the use of the leave rather than the use of PTO for a pet’s death. I would hope that all employers would be so thoughtful. But it is also the employee’s responsibility to not expect that the world’s definitions of human relationships to extends to animals.

      7. Yorick*

        This is silly. Of course there are strings attached. You just can’t get paid time that doesn’t deduct from your PTO for any death that occurs. Even any human death! You can take off time when you need it, including for the death of a pet or acquaintance or what have you, but you have to use PTO for that.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah the bit where the employee said the pet met the company’s definition of immediate family confused me. Everywhere I’ve worked they’ve defined immediate family using words like “parent, stepparent, spouse, child, stepchild, sibling, grandparent, grandchild” – not necessarily all draw employers drew the same line for what constitutes “immediate” but they use those terms – which cannot be logically applied to a non-human. So I’m wondering how this was worded in the first place that the employee felt it reasonable to argue it fit and needed clarification. Like…what the heck did it say?

      1. LizM*

        Not OP, but I’m guessing there is some kind of catch all for a relative/family member who lives with the employee. I’ve seen that before, especially prior to same sex marriage being legal in a lot of states, to capture partnerships where there wasn’t necessarily a state-recognized marriage or genetic relationship.

        Another example that comes to mind was my grandfather. He was raised by a second cousin, but never formally adopted. It was the Depression, I don’t know the whole story, but he ended up staying when his biological parents (who were staying with the cousin) moved out when he was very young. He 100% percent considered his cousin and her husband to be his parents, and their children to be his siblings. I’ve seen bereavement policies that would have a catch-all that would let him use bereavement leave for parents or siblings if the family that raised him passed away.

        I can totally see an inartfully written policy trying to capture those situations not specifying “human” and someone taking a broad reading of the exception and finding a perceived loophole for their pet.

        1. Willis*

          Yeah, I think the employee is trying to litigate a policy that was probably written broadly to be inclusive of close relationships outside of traditional familial relationships like “parent, spouse, child, etc.” to include a pet. I don’t know if she is genuinely confused about the policy (possibly, but seems doubtful to me) or is being purposely argumentative so as to save PTO and still have the week off (the more likely scenario to me). But it seems to be taking advantage of what was probably a well-intentioned policy. I agree with Alison’s advice to hold firm on the remaining time being taken as PTO.

  9. Chad*

    I find Alison’s response to LW 1 lacking. Alison was a fan of sick leave to care for pets, but seems to not be on board with bereavement for pets. It should be equal opportunity. I tried to post the link to her earlier post but it apparently got caught by the anti spam bots.

    1. desdemona*

      But as Alison said, bereavement leave is meant for time off to handle the logistics of a death. For a pet that is fairly simple. For a parent or a child, it’s funeral arrangements, burial arrangements, cancelling their bills, etc. You’re certainly not expected to just be done grieving after 2 weeks.

      1. Chad*

        The logistics of a death vary from family to family and from culture to culture. Not providing bereavement assumes zero logistics which might be the case for some pet deaths but not for all. If employees get the benefit for sick leave then we shouldn’t inherently limit them on bereavement under the “it’s not a human clause”.

        1. Double A*

          The logistics of handling a pet death are really just one day: the day you have a euthanasia appointment, or if they die at home, then potentially dealing with the body (I’ve always simply put my animals in the fridge if I’m not able to bury them immediately, but that wouldn’t work with a large pet). If you are going to bury or scatter your pet, that is something that you can easily find a time to do. It’s not like a human funeral that takes a lot of coordination.

          (Now, there may be many many days leading up to the death when they’ve got vet appointments, etc., but bereavement leave is only for after a death so a different type of leave would be needed for those type of logistics.)

          It’s completely reasonable to take time off around a pet death. I took the day off when I had to put my cat down, and if I weren’t in a job where it is such a pain to miss work, I would likely have taken off the rest of the week. I don’t think anyone is saying one shouldn’t take time off, just that bereavement leave isn’t really the appropriate pot of time. A very generous company or a kind manager might offer one day of bereavement leave to deal with the logistics, but just as with a human death, additional time off to deal with the emotional fall out would need to be a different type of leave.

          1. littledoctor*

            I mean, I would need to make arrangements for a religious funeral for the death of my pet. (Hypothetically—I have no pets.)

            1. Heather*

              Not trying to be snarky – genuinely curious: What religions provide funeral services for pets? I’m not very knowledgeable about them so I’m honestly surprised to hear that’s an option.

        2. hbc*

          By that logic, anyone I get bereavement leave for should be able to fit under FMLA, or insurance. Why do I get time off to go to my nephew’s funeral but not time off when he gets sick or the ability to add him to my health insurance?

          Of course there are specific cases that don’t meet the general logic underlying the guidelines, but companies need to put into place these policies to avoid having this debate every time the situation comes up. The fact that I was significantly less affected by my estranged aunt’s death than the six cats I’ve lost during my working career does not obligate an employer to change their very reasonable policy.

    2. Mangled metaphor*

      The policy shouldn’t specify “human”, but should maybe be applied “at discretion”.
      While this opens up a whole different minefield of “fairness” it would cover executor responsibilities for non-blood relations, pets for which an appointment for euthenasia is required, and all the other not-so-edge-case-but-not-common-enough-to-be-taken-for-granted cases everyone else is mentioning.
      Bereavement leave is for the initial period of shock following a death, and the admin that goes with it – at discretion this covers pets. It is not grief leave – you’d have employees out for months if it were. As hardhearted as this sounds, companies cannot be responsible for an employee’s grief; they exist to make money.

      1. JustMyImagination*

        My company has found a bit of a compromise without stipulating human. It gives 5 days for immediate family members including parents-in-law, 3 days for extended family and additional days at the discretion of your manager. So if you needed time off fir a friend or 5 days for someone deemed extended family then your manager can approve that. It still leaves it in the hand of individual managers but at least the policy stipulates some guidelines.

    3. Snow Globe*

      If a company allows sick leave to care for a pet, that doesn’t mean that the company is now obligated to treat a pet as a family member in all other circumstances. If a company offers 6 weeks parental leave for adoptions, does that now include adoption of a dog?

      1. Koalafied*

        Funnily enough, “pawternity/peternity leave” has become a trendy benefit for some companies to offer in the last 4-5 years.

    4. ENFP in Texas*

      As someone who has lost both a spouse and pets… the logistical/legal requirements of losing a loved one FAR outweigh the logistical requirements of losing a pet. The time off for Bereavement when my husband died meant I could plan a funeral, take care of the insurance issues, figure out what banking and bills and legal stuff I needed to do, how to file for benefits, etc etc etc.

      That was all above and beyond dealing with the emotional aspect.

    5. StudentA*

      You already have an automatic pot of sick leave provided to you by your employer. You can choose to go to the dentist, take a mental health day, take your cat to the vet, or get new glasses.

      Bereavement leave is an extra benefit intended in the event of a death of a human. It’s not an automatic pot of payroll.

  10. Rev A02*

    LW#3, it’s an attendance thing. When I worked at a large university, to register for any seminars/events/etc. it was done through the internal booking software using staff ID/email. It could have been a retirement seminar or a student drama recital. It was all the same – and this was back when attendance was in person.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Im wondering why such important info isn’t more easily accessible in a handbook and requires a full-on webinar. A simple FAQ page would do the trick, or an anonymous “ask HR” email or something.

      1. UKDancer*

        In my experience people don’t tend to read the handbook and they’re not always very easy to understand. Many people prefer to get their learning through a seminar where they can ask questions. I’d be surprised, for example, if many people read the section of our staff handbook on pensions very much but when HR runs a webinar explaining pensions they’re always oversubscribed because people find it an easier and more palatable way to digest the information.

      2. Shiara*

        It might very well be, but universities are aware that you can’t trust anyone to actually read the handbook (or the syllabus). Better to go through it in a designated presentation than field a thousand emails around the same thing. And it can be reassuring to be walked through the process in a presentation so you’re not left wondering “was that really it?” about major life changes.

      3. Snow Globe*

        People frequently have questions about specific situations that are not in the FAQ. I recently sat through a retirement webinar after having read the entire retirement guide from the handbook, because there were still a few things that weren’t directly addressed. During that seminar there were dozens of questions asked by the attendees, and the presenters had to end the session by telling people to email them for additional help because they had run out of time..

      4. Kiki*

        I think sometimes the information is technically available, it just may be hard to parse as a layperson, so having someone talk through it is really helpful. And being around to hear the questions other folks are asking can also benefit people.

      5. MicroManagered*

        It probably is available in all those formats. People have different learning styles and retain information differently depending on how they got the information. Some people read and retain, others need to hear it spoken. This HR department is doing people a kind service by offering multiple ways to get the info.

      6. RagingADHD*

        Because people don’t read, and many who do read have very poor reading comprehension. It’s a lot more convenient for HR to answer questions live in one venue than answer them over and over by email.

      7. Allonge*

        Where I work now, sick leave policies have not changed for the last ten years. Every month I see long-serving staff surprised by when you need to provide a doctor’s certificate and similar basics.

        Some people’s brains just don’t retain this information well, and there is also a lot of people who find it hard to digest it in written form (to be fair, the written version tends to be not the easiest text to read). I know people with a law degree having trouble with these kinds of things! A webinar/presentation is a great idea.

    2. Kal*

      I wonder if some of the issue might be able to be handled if they could make a recording of the webinar available after the fact (with participant info removed, of course). It might take a bit more work to record and do the redacting of participant info, and would lose out on the interactive benefits of a webinar, but it could be a way for the presentation to be made available to employees who are nervous about putting their name down. And in this case it would also be useful to employees who weren’t planning a family yet when this webinar happened so they skipped it, but are before the next time one covers this topic, or for employees who couldn’t be there at that particular time for whatever reason. It might be something LW3 could ask the organiser about.

  11. Emma*

    As a single someone who had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her dog down, I would love to see companies give bereavement leave for pets. Beyond the emotional toll- there are actually logistics that go into putting an animal down (securing a vet appointment or contracting with a provider who will perform the procedure in your home) and having to wait until the weekend/ your next day off may mean your pet suffers needlessly for the sake of your employer. Now, 40 hours does seem excessive, but making it so you get 1-2 days off for putting a family pet down may be kinder for all parties involved, especially if you have limited (or no) personal days.

      1. Sami*

        But no one is telling those who are grieving humans they have to use PTO. Different pots of leave to pull use.

        1. Casper Lives*

          Yes, they are! Most companies give very little bereavement leave and expect use of PTO or unpaid time.

          My work is a stingy 3 days bereavement leave for close family members. My uncle didn’t count as “close” per stated relations. I didn’t have PTO to take the rest of the day and next for the initial shock because I just started the job.

          When I had to say goodbye to my cat this year, I took off half a day for the vet appointment. I had the flexibility to do it on Friday afternoon. I took a half day and mourned initially shock over the weekend. I would’ve taken a day or 2 PTO otherwise. I was wrecked but I don’t expect the weird amount of deference others here are proclaiming for their let’s.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, that’s the way it would work at my company. You can get up to five days’ compassionate leave when a family member dies, but that’s really only to cover going to the funeral and the immediate aftermath. If someone needed longer than that, which they often do, they’d either need to take some holiday, self-certify as sick (which you can do for up to 5 consecutive working days) and/or then get signed off longer-term by their doctor. I have actually recently had a family member die and their funeral is in a couple of weeks’ time – they weren’t a close family member so I don’t qualify for compassionate leave in this case, but in those cases where I work that sort of thing is at the discretion of your manager, and my manager is happy for me to work from home on the morning of the funeral and then take the afternoon off for the funeral without having to use any holiday or sick time.

        2. anonymous73*

          Every place I’ve ever works only gives 3 days bereavement leave. If I need more time, I take PTO. That’s how it works.

    1. Beth*

      I agree that giving 1-2 days for a pet’s death would be a great benefit. (And in this case, OP1’s company gave more than that! They were pretty generous, I thought.) Having a day to handle the actual death, as well as whatever burial or cremation arrangements might be needed, is a big help in this kind of thing. For companies looking to promote work-life balance or attract and retain good workers, I think this would be a great policy to enact–it’s not very expensive for the company to give a day or two in those circumstances, and a lot of people would appreciate it.

      But I wouldn’t assume this is covered in a bereavement leave policy unless it was specifically stated. It’s not common enough for that. And I definitely wouldn’t expect the amount of time to match what someone might get for the loss of a parent, spouse, child, or other human family member! The logistics just aren’t as intense or time-consuming to handle, and that’s really what it’s for.

    2. Fish Microwaver*

      When I was at university, a classmates’s dog died the morning of an important exam ( I think it was 60% of total marks). The university allowed her to miss the exam and take a post as she lived alone with her dog. I have always thought this was a flexible and compassionate action by our uni and meant a lot to our classmate.

  12. A mathematician*

    For LW#3, from experience at a university if not one in the US, I think you’re probably overestimating how much your colleagues and boss will notice. Universities are often filled with oblivious people :). It’s also still an area where (if you get the opportunity) you tend to stay for some time, so if anyone does ask you can always say you think you might want to in five or ten years and you thought you may as well find out if it would be worth staying for, as that’s kind of the university’s point of having those benefits – to retain employees.

    When I had a pregnancy to announce, I was wary about it – I had a very male department, where the parents were almost all parents of teenagers or adults and the younger people weren’t parents. As it turned out, my boss was supportive (on the whole) and colleagues were nice or oblivious. The students were definitely oblivious – one student came for a chat about failing his exam when I was about 7 months pregnant and it was very very obvious, I told him I obviously wouldn’t be teaching next semester and he asked why not?.

    1. Boof*

      Maybe your student was very well trained to not assume “belly bulge” = “pregnant”! (also, I feel like I’m HUGE now at 7 months but depending what I’m wearing/how I’m sitting a few patients are surprised when I let them know I’ll be out on maternity leave so someone else will be covering their next visit in a few months)

      1. Lenora Rose*

        This. I had a teacher back in high school who looked pregnant the entire time I was in school. Fairly trim looking body, slim legs, round belly. I was very glad not to be in the only class though those 3 years where someone did ask when she was due….

        1. A mathematician*

          Sure – and I would have expected them to keep quiet earlier on in the pregnancy because it wasn’t obvious then. But they’d seen me teach all semester (this interaction was at the end of the semester), had seen my bump getting bigger and bigger all the time, and by that point I could rest stuff on it while standing (I had a very big bump and a very big baby). Not everyone does have that kind of really obvious bump, but I absolutely did. I also used the word “obviously” and gestured to my bump while explaining that I wouldn’t be back next semester.

    2. Rose*

      That’s not oblivious at all, esp if you’re in the US where parental leave isn’t a given. Many women go back to work soon after having a baby. There are plenty of reasons you might not choose to teach that may or may not be related to the baby. Also, not mentioning pregnancy/a future baby until the pregnant person does is always smart, as we’ve seen in this comments section many times.

      1. A mathematician*

        It is a sad state of affairs in the US that parental leave isn’t a given. Luckily I’m not in the US, so mine was – in fact my contract forbids going back to work for six weeks after giving birth, which would have prevented me from teaching the following semester (in fact I had six months parental leave at full pay).

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I think it’s more why change teachers abruptly partway through a class? if you’re going to be hiring a replacement for 6 weeks just hire them the full time unless the person on leave has a *really* good reason to want to come back right then.

            1. A mathematician*

              Indeed – our semesters are 13 weeks, and as it happened I gave birth a couple of weeks before the start of semester, but no-one is ever scheduled to teach unless they’re there for all of it. If someone new joins the department part way through a semester they start teaching the following semester. Resignations usually happen at the end of semester anyway (we have to give three months notice), and the one time it didn’t happen like that there was a big scramble to fill in the gap.

              In fact, the head of department’s wife was hired to cover my leave, which sounds like horrible nepotism, but in fact she is a lovely woman who is a wonderful teacher and they were lucky to get her.

  13. Typing All The Time*

    LW #2 – send them a LinkedIn request. Or if you think they comfortable with it, a Facebook request. If he is interested, he’ll let you know. If not, you have your answer.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I wouldn’t do LinkedIn alone – that’s explicitly for professional connections. Most people find it inappropriate to use LinkedIn to ask people out romantically.

      1. Rose*

        Thank you. Please stop trying to make LinkedIn a dating site. It’s SO annoying getting creepy messages from men on there.

        There is absolutely thing to read into if someone adds you on LinkedIn. I will connect with people I found annoying or didn’t think we’re good at their jobs. It’s just a way to see who is in your network, your networks network, etc.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          Ha, so here’s a weird LinkedIn scenario: my husband and I work in two completely different industries (think: digital teapot renderings and llama wrangler), and he got a notification last week that someone from my company was looked at his LinkedIn profile – one of those vague “someone from Company X” notifications, not the person’s name. Am I reading too much into this to find it…weird? Like what professional reason would someone I work with in teapots need to know anything about llamas?

          1. Hil*

            I’ve noticed that when I look at someone, their spouse or SO is often one of the suggested people in the right side bar now. I noticed this because I went to a very tight knit MBA program so I’m connected to tons of people who are also married. I’m guessing someone was benignly curious OR maybe interested in switching careers or functions. My boss is lovely and tells lots of stories about her family and I can see myself being curious about what her husband did if his profile popped up for me. Just a general like oh, Jessica is so cool, I wonder if her husband also works with llamas? I don’t think I’d do it but it doesn’t seem too too crazy.

  14. the one who got away*

    My dog, who should turn twelve in three weeks, is dying. He’s the closest I’ll ever have to a child and I’ve raised him from a puppy. We don’t get pet bereavement leave and I won’t request it, but I know I won’t be able to work the next day and one of the many things that feels awful and unfair in the midst of this screaming chasm of anticipatory grief is that I’ll have to take “vacation” for it.

    I don’t have any hot takes or advice, just sympathy.

    1. Hunter*

      I feel for you pal.

      I am writing this as someone who has buried a drever to a shallow grave in frozen marshland so the foxes would find it and put it back to natural circulation. Raise a mug in memory of your deceased friend after it happens and remember the good times. I remember Miina as long as i live, but i did not shame her by getting paralyzed by losing her. She was the cause of death for multiple hares and managed to live until she fell due to old age. The most i could do was to give her back to the nature.

      Yes, i am not an american and i was raised in rural area by parents who made me respect nature in arctic zone. How could you tell?

      Sorry, for hijacking this. I wish you well in these times. I hope you find your own way to handle things. I know i am the odd one in these parts.

      1. Not a Hunter, but totally understanding they exist*

        This is rather a harsh response. I understand that you’re trying to emphasize that there are different viewpoints on the death of pets, but it feels like an attack on this responder implying that what they feel is shameful. I’m glad you processed your grief in a way that feels right and natural to you, but it’s not very helpful to expect others to grieve in the same way. Maybe this should be a first level response to the OP, not a guilt trip for this person anticipating a really sad time coming up?

      2. Starbuck*

        “but i did not shame her by getting paralyzed by losing her.”

        Wow. The implied passing judgement on the grieving practices of others here is super rude. That you already wrote in an apology for hijacking the thread was a cue that this was not a good comment to make.

      3. the one who got away*

        It’s okay. I don’t think feeling emotions are shameful and I understand that people grieve differently. My pup would not care one bit if I were paralyzed for a minute. :)

        I appreciate the support in the rest of the comment. Also, I’ve never heard of a drever dog so I had to look that one up.

    2. Waiting on the bus*

      Can you take sick leave instead? I would classify grief as a reason why a mental health day is needed.

      I’m so sorry. *hugs*

      1. the one who got away*

        That’s a good idea. Maybe I could. I feel so deeply weird about it for the very reasons detailed throughout this post and its comments — “dogs aren’t people” and stuff.

        1. RT*

          Yeah, dogs literally aren’t people, but they do love you! And you love your dog and will be clearly affected by his passing. It sounds like it’s a necessary mental health day for sure.

  15. Library Lady*

    I am absolutely in favor of using PTO for the death of a pet, even multiple days if necessary, but it never crossed my mind to ask for bereavement leave when we had to put one of my kitties to sleep last summer. I too associate bereavement leave with the more complicated arrangements of funeral planning, assisting family members, travel, etc, and I don’t think pets fall into that category. That being said, if one of my employees needed to take multiple days off to deal with the loss of a pet, I wouldn’t bat an eye. I think the LW found a good balance – allowing the employee to use a smaller amount of bereavement leave, and letting them use PTO to cover additional time if needed.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I feel that bereavement is bereavement and it could be extended to cover a beloved family pet. Within reason! As in definitely 8 hours if needed, possibly 2 days.

      A week? No.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Well, the boss offered her 3+ days of bereavement and the employee is arguing she should get the other 2 also instead of using some of the 6/15 days PTO she has left if she wants to stay away from work.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m thinking that if you’ve got decent leave policies, there’s room for taking “mental health days” for the loss of a pet. As much as I love critters and know that it’s painful to lose them, I think if you’ve got bereavement benefits, they should remain for the loss of humans for the sake of the drama that I could see erupting about equating pets with people in the employee handbook.

  16. WoodswomanWrites*

    For #1, I’m allergic to pets and don’t have any for that reason. I become attached to the ones that live with other people in my life and have a lot of compassion for them when they’ve lost their pets.

    My employer openly encourages our team to use sick time for mental health days, and theoretically if I were grieving a pet, I would use sick days for that. I concur that official bereavement days are for logistics of managing the tasks related to a death–not for addressing grief, which certainly would extend well beyond any official time off.

  17. Lil Bean*

    LW#1: May not help in this scenario if they have none left, but letting people use sick days for grieving might be a good compromise. It’s not 40 hours, but it’s something.

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      Agreed here – many people are making the point that Alison encouraged sick leave to be available for pets, and that was mainly for something like vet appointments, so I don’t see why employers couldn’t add in their policy that they allow sick leave to be used for the death of a pet (presumably to cover euthanasia appointments and logistics after that). Or maybe OP’s company could add in their bereavement policy that ~8-16 hours could be used for a pet death, which gives a day or two for appointments, burial/cremation, and just some down time to process it all. Like everyone else is saying, bereavement time is really for logistics and the very initial grieving process, but we can’t expect it to cover all grieving.

      1. Cj*

        I think a day without having to take it out of your PTO would be awesome. Like you said, it gives you time for the euthinasia appointment if there is one, and at least getting through that first day.

        I think the 40 hours the employee in the letter is demanding is entirely unreasonable, though. Many companies don’t even give 40 hours for an immediate family member.

  18. Anon for this*

    As someone who works in the veterinary field and therefore has sadly had a fair amount of experience with this subject…grief over a pets passing is very real, especially if it was unexpected. Even when it’s expected it can be harder than anticipated. I can’t even think about that “someday” for my current dog without tearing up.
    That said, Alison is right that logistics around it are different. Time off may be needed if it is planned, so the appointment can happen before quality of life worsens. And I 100% support using PTO for a day or two afterward if people find it necessary.
    But (for the most part, there are some people who chose to do home burials but they are rarer and rarer at least in my area) all of the post-event logistical organizing does not have to be done by the owner. Our clinic arranges for cremation and returning ashes/clay paws/hair clippings that they might want. Again very few people are organizing funerals or wakes or memorials for the pet (or needing to travel across the country). And there aren’t any difficult legal issues like going over wills etc. Which as Alison said is really what bereavement leave is set up as- bereavement is just a nicer word. And why it normally applies only to close family members etc.
    again- totally support people taking whatever time off they need. That pain and loss is real and can be so difficult. But I agree with Alison that it’s not what bereavement leave is really meant for.

  19. qvaken*

    OP #2, I realize I’m reacting to your experience based on my own, but I suggest paying attention to whether he is doing similar behaviors to other female staff members, particularly his female subordinates.

    I was recently not-the-first to quit a job after a male manager groomed me and at least one other female staff member. It was a deeply hurtful, confusing, and destabilizing experience.

    I hope you’re dealing with a genuine guy who is interested in you, or a genuine guy who is very friendly but doesn’t see you in that way. And I don’t think there’s any harm in asking the question! (Once only, if he says no.)

    But if it turns out he’s the sort of manager who tends to view his female subordinates as potential sexual partners, and who takes steps to convince them to view him in that way, then please thank your lucky stars he is leaving, be kind to yourself, be mindful not to blame yourself, and seek counselling if necessary.

    1. Loulou*

      I’m very sorry to hear that this happened to you, but I don’t think there’s any reason to think OP is in a similar situation. Like Alison said, the “signs” OP has picked up on may indeed be signs of romantic interest, but they could just as easily be nothing. From what OP has told us, there’s no real reason to think the coworker is hitting on them or even flirting.

    2. Weisarom*

      Yes please consider this! And this was such a perfect description : “It was a deeply hurtful, confusing and destabilizing experience “. I also left after I realized I was being used as an emotional support “toy” by a manager and experienced many of the behaviors OP #2 described.

      I also hope he’s genuine and it works out for the best!

      1. qvaken*

        Thank you, and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve experienced something similar. I really hope OP is dealing with a safer person than you or I did!

    3. RagingADHD*

      I am sorry that you had that hurtful and destabilizing experience.

      However, please don’t subvert the term “grooming” this way. In the sense of sexual predators, “grooming” is a very specific term. It applies to children, because they are incapable of fully understanding what they are doing. Fully competent adults have agency. They are capable of giving consent (even when that consent might be a bad idea). Adults might be harassed, abused, deceived or manipulated, but they are not groomed.

      The term “grooming” is appropriately used in the workplace to mean training a subordinate for career advancement. It is a type of positive mentorship, and it has nothing to do with being a creep or a harasser.

      1. qvaken*

        Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, adults can also groom other adults, and they can do so in the workplace.

        In my situation, the manager started to blur the personal-professional boundary with me from day one. He was an extremely charming and likeable person, and it was a gradual process of increasingly personal comments, behaviors and boundary violations over several months. Eventually, I was thinking about him constantly. My former co-worker described an eerily similar experience, including that he used several of the same lines on both of us.

        He then got into a pattern of personally rejecting my former co-worker and me and ignoring us, then he would start the behaviors of bringing us closer again. He did it all subtly or behind closed doors, and in his written communications he always presented himself as simply friendly and professional.

        I also witnessed him appearing to get unusually close and personal with a few of his other female subordinates in and around the workplace. In particular, I saw him call a woman into his office to be alone where there seemed to be no work reason for it, and my former co-worker told me she saw him alone in his car with that same woman where there seemed to be no work reason for it.

        Each of us willingly went along with it. Because when it’s grooming, it feels good, while also feeling wrong the whole time.

        When it started to feel more awful than good and I started to speak up, other managers and HR chose him over me. He was charming, extremely likeable, and presented himself as more competent than his years of experience; by this point, I had acquired a mental health injury, was displaying symptoms that others didn’t like having to deal with, and I was saying negative things about him that they didn’t want to hear. I was still performing highly, but not as well as usual. I was also told he had a reputation for informally complaining to fellow managers (and, I later learnt, HR) about any and all issues he had with staff members, however minor. He had a talent for mobilizing others to do parts of his job for him (including me), and he had a talent for mobilizing others to defend him.

        I made a HR complaint, but they never contacted my former co-worker despite her giving permission for them to do so, and they concluded that none of it ever occurred. I quit and they dismissed me before my notice was up, and I later learnt that they gave him the responsibility of choosing my replacement.

        For the record, an older boy also chose to groom me when I was a child, and another older boy chose to groom me when I was a young teenager. I agree that children deserve a special kind of protection from and “forgiveness” (if you will) for victimisation by older children and adults.

        But I would not want to downplay the experience of an adult working on other adults for many months, manipulating and deceiving them, doing things to encourage them to feel certain ways, so they can use those other adults to get their own personal needs met. Especially when they do it in such personal, private areas as romance and sex, and especially when they do it in the workplace where women should be safe to turn up and put our qualifications and years of experience to good use by doing our jobs.

    4. SimplytheBest*

      This feels like quite an alarmist response to a man who has, according to OP, occasionally maintained eye contact with her and *maybe* once winked.

  20. Annie J*

    I don’t think anyone should be able to say whether the dog deserves bereavement leave or not, I think where the employee made a mistake was that she specifically told her boss what the leave was for, a good rule of thumb for me is never give more information than is absolutely necessary to your boss or managers, as they will always use it against you.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m sorry that that has been your experience, but it’s not fair to make such a broad statement. And some places do want to know who died when funeral leave is requested, some for nice reasons such as sending flowers, and others to make sure the employee isn’t joining the dead-grandmother-of-the-month club.

    2. Allonge*

      I think that is a fair policy for annual / regular leave, but for additional (let’s call it special) leave I expect more companies want an explanation (and even paperwork) than not. If you don’t want to give an explanation, you use annual leave.

    3. Despachito*

      But could the employee NOT be specific, given that the bereavement leave is specific according to the family relationship to the deceased (I understand that usually there is a longer leave for a parent than for a sibling)?

      1. CoveredinBees*

        I think it depends on the employer. I have worked places where they applied it broadly and basically left it up to an employee’s discretion, so it was ok to use for non-relatives you were especially close to. On the other hand, I’ve also worked somewhere that you would have to submit *extra* documentation for bereavement leave for anyone other than a parent, spouse (legally married, not long-term partner), or child. You had to demonstrate that you had an especially close bond with this relative (no non-relatives ever) such as living together. It was revolting.

    4. EPLawyer*

      For use of bereavement leave a death certificate is usually required. They aren’t going to just take your word for it. If you can’t supply the death certificate or an obituary, then the bereavement leave converts to some other PTO.

      1. This Old House*

        Really? I’ve only had to use it once, and that was not the case, but I know that’s not a lot of experience. So many places offer some amount of bereavement leave for somewhat more distant relatives (e.g. aunts, uncles, cousins) – I can’t imagine expecting someone to call a grieving aunt and ask for a copy of her husband’s death certificate before they’re allowed the day off they’re entitled to for attending the funeral.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s very unusual to request a death certificate, and would indicate either a bizarrely paranoid employer or a history with that one employee that led the boss to ask for proof after a string of dodgy absences.

        “My grandmother died; I need to take Thursday and Friday” “So sorry to hear that; Thursday and Friday are fine” is the normal exchange.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        “For use of bereavement leave a death certificate is usually required.”

        That hasn’t been my experience in 20+ years in HR. I’ve worked in a major metro area in the US for many companies, from a small software company to a large healthcare system.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        I’ve frequently seen policies saying the employer may ask to be directed to an obit, but never a request for a death certificate. That seems like overkill. And they only even ask for the obit if they have reason to think you’re lying. I don’t think anyone’s ever actually been asked for that where I work, but it is written in to the policy that they might ask.

    5. anonymous73*

      If you’re using any type of special leave (i.e. not just regular PTO) you’re going to have to provide a reason for that leave, because it is meant for a specific reason.

    6. Rose*

      Nooo this is not how this works at all. Bereavement leave is a specific pot of PTO for a very specific circumstance. The company has even broken down how much leave your get by relationship type. They do get to decide to offer or not offer bereavement leave for pets, regardless of how mean some people think they are, and being deceptive about who died so you can take PTO youre not entitled to is a move that, at the very best, has high potential to come back and bite you.

  21. Elizabeth*

    Regarding letter writer #1, just wanted to chime in to say, my company explicitly DOES offer pet bereavement leave. Dogs in the office are common, and on the occasion of one’s death people also sign cards with fond memories of the pet if they knew them and empathy if they didn’t. Granted, we work in a pet focused industry, but it’s one of the best things about our culture and tends to attract us very kind and empathetic coworkers. I’d say to everyone saying no to this, maybe it’s not how the policy was designed, but maybe you should update it so it is. The benefit in how loyal and supported this employee will feel will be worth more than 15 hours.

    1. Double A*

      Interesting! What amount of time does your company give for pet bereavement leave? Or is it just that pets are one of the parties for whom you can take it?

    2. WS*

      Mine too! There’s a bucket of 10 days paid sick/carers/bereavement leave per year, and all your humans and your pets are included in that. I live in a rural area with a lot of big, extended families, and it’s honestly been really great not to have to quibble over whether your cousin (who grew up in your home but isn’t your sibling), or your neighbour who saved your life in a flood one time, or your favourite horse that you’ve had since you were a kid counts as “bereaved enough”.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        10 days combined sick/carers/bereavement leave and you see that as a good policy?

        Fingers crossed no one’s parents die in the same year they catch the flu.

        1. WS*

          Plus 20 days holidays – standard in Australia. Whether or not that’s good is not up to me, my “good” comment was based on the specific company policy of not separating bereavement leave into categories.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            I’d argue that lumping it in with other forms of leave is pretty horrific and wipes out any benefit of flexibility the employee would have.

            At a very low bar minimum, bereavement leave needs to be ringfenced away from other forms of leave.

            1. Anonymeece*

              I’d absolutely agree with this. A friend of mine lost, in less than two years, her mom, her stepdad, and her grandfather. Just because she had a very, very bad time shouldn’t mean that she shouldn’t be able to take bereavement for each and have no other time off. If anything, she needed more time off just to process all of her losses.

    3. Snow Globe*

      While I’ve been arguing that (standard) bereavement leave is not *intended* to be used for pets (and is intended to be used for necessary logistical purposes), I think it is a great benefit if the company chooses to offer it. I would expect the company could then specify the number of days off for the type of pet, which may be less than for humans (where there are more logistical issues to deal with). I’m curious if they offer the same number of days off for all pets? i.e., is a goldfish treated the same as a dog?

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      That really great and special. I could have used 10 days when my Shrona died; I was especially distraught when I found her dead after I gave her a fresh cricket for dinner.

      My Shrona was my first ever pet black widow and I still think of her often.

      Not kidding.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        This is actually quite interesting! How does one keep a black widow – is it like keeping a tarantula, just smaller?

    5. J*

      It may shock a lot of people but this is becoming more common in some of the businesses I work with. When people are struggling to recruit talent, these employers offering sick leave for vet visits, pet bereavement leave and miscarriage sick and bereavement leave (among many other benefits) are really showing they want to be competitive and respect their employees.

      My brother-in-law passed from Covid last month and another sibling was given 10 days versus my 3, with 5 considered “sudden death” leave and 5 considered “funeral” leave. The former was to acknowledge the shock of the death and how unprepared family was. They also offer add-on days for distance needed to travel to a funeral. He was in a far better place to return to work than my husband, who now likely needs to take long-term illness leave as the immediate pandemic death has triggered panic attacks in him. Part of it is being married to me, a high risk person, and seeing this take out a healthy family member and bereavement leave clearly isn’t designed for that. But I wonder if he was freely given more time if he could have processed those emotions better versus bottling it up and going back to work like nothing had happened. We spent all our leave time just managing the estate planning and couldn’t even meet with the funeral home for a week because of the backlog due to covid deaths. We ran out well before the funeral.

  22. hmmm*

    OP1, do you really want to leave this employee feeling unappreciated and unsupported? Because, even in pre-COVID times, this would be the result.

    There are also still logistics required when a pet dies: if they need to be put down, there is a lot to organise with vets and etc, and there is also the burial/cremation and so forth.

    1. Ernestyna*

      I think such accusation is manipulative and it tells more about the accuser than the company. If somebody feels unappreciated because a generous offer is not 100% as demanded, they are absolutely immature. I also very much dislike the bordering gaslighting comments of the type “so you say one doesn’t grieve when an animal dies”; this is a troll language, used on purpose to create conflict.

    2. Casper Lives*

      The employee got 25 free hours of leave for a pet! She should be thanking her lucky stars. I’ve never heard of a company doing that.

      1. ghost_cat*

        And two years ago, we never imagined employers allowing employees to work from home on reduced hours for the same pay because they had to care for children who were also at home. I wonder whether this employee has had to carry an increased workload due to their employer granting much needed flexibility to parents and is wanting some much needed flexibility at a time in their life when they’ve been afforded none. It’s been a tough two years for everyone. But that’s another divisive topic in itself.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I wonder whether this employee has had to carry an increased workload due to their employer granting much needed flexibility to parents and is wanting some much needed flexibility at a time in their life when they’ve been afforded none.

          There is nothing in the letter to indicate that, and I don’t think speculating about it is very helpful to answering the question.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Counter argument: Maybe the employee was taking reduced hours to care for her ailing dog.

          This is all fanfic.

      2. Pippa K*

        You’re probably right, and I know this is largely a function of things employers really do have to find a way to manage, but in the larger picture I find it so disheartening sometimes that we automatically start parsing even really important human needs and relationships into timeclock hours and standardised categories. The implicit assumption (not by you particularly, by almost all of us) that even emotional needs should be managed to fit productivity demands is…depressing. But I live in the working world too and acknowledge that there’s probably no way around this, at least at corporation scale.

    3. anonymous73*

      If the employee is feeling unappreciated and unsupported for being allowed to use 3 days of a policy not intended for pet loss, then that’s highly irrational. If a company allows employees to use bereavement leave for pets, where does it end? Would you also expect to use parental leave for a pet adoption? FMLA for a sick pet?

      1. Ice and Indigo*

        From the OP’s description, it really sounds like part of the reason the employee is going at this so hard is that she wants the world to recognise that the dog was ‘immediate family’ as far as her emotions were concerned.

        Which is fine in terms of ‘you get to feel the way you feel’, but it’s not the company’s job to proclaim an official validation.

        She might very well feel unappreciated and unsupported, but she’s been treated pretty reasonably, and the amount of ‘support’ she’s asking for is … kind of too much for a workplace? Liable to open big cans of worms with every other employee?

    4. Gan Ainm*

      It’s not OP’s fault if the employee feels put upon / unappreciated / whatever emotions they feel. Sometimes people have unreasonable reactions; it’s not on everyone else to accommodate and control that for them. The employee got an incredible boon of 25 extra hours paid time off, and instead of realizing the company was being accommodating, demanded more. If they feel some kind of way, that’s their choice.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      If 99.99% of the company’s employees intuitively know bereavement is meant for human family members, I’m not worried about the .01% who will feel slighted they can’t use it for Fluffy. That’s on them. The boss wants to allow a partial week as bereavement time and that’s a gift.

      Yes, I have multiple cats, I love them, and they’re part of my family. But no, I’m not entitled to nor would I expect to get bereavement time. I’d take whatever PTO I have if I felt I needed it.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Arranging for cremation was literally a case of dropping off the animal (if they died at home) or agreeing before the euthanasia appointment that we wanted cremation. It is not analogous to when we had to travel cross-country to attend a relative’s funeral, or even take a few hours off to attend a local funeral for a friend.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        It depends on the animal. As some commenters have stated, a horse is far more than a simple drop off at the vet. Also, bereavement leave is also for that first grief shock.

    7. LQ*

      If an employee is feeling unappreciated and unsupported for ONLY getting 25 hours of leave they are likely already feeling that way and it’s wildly unlikely that the 15 hours more is going to make them loyal. And it’s possible that this employee is. And it’s possible this employee is wildly immature and demanding. It’s even possible that both are true at the same time.

  23. Tali*

    LW1: I think it would be understandable to not apply bereavement leave for pets. However, does your company offer generous enough PTO for workers to use instead?

    You said the worker in question has 48 hours left for the year. If she were to take the rest of the week off, that would be 40 hours, leaving her with only 8 (one day!) going into the holiday season. Even with your offer of giving her 25 hours, that leaves her with 23 hours, or less than 3 days (of 8 hours) PTO for the rest of the year. Of course every worker spends their time off differently, but she only has 120 hours/15 days of leave for a whole year! Regardless of how you feel about pets, if your message is “use PTO”, then you should have a generous PTO policy.

    1. Tali*

      Also think about the loyalty you will buy with your team in showing generosity here. If you can’t change the PTO allotment, 15 hours could buy you several years’ retention with your team who sees how this worker was treated in her grief.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        The employee was already given 25 hours and you could end up with employees who got 40 hours for a parent or sibling dying being resentful that they got the same bereavement time as someone whose pet died. So it’s not an automatic win.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think that really depends on the existing dynamic around PTO in the office, though. If there are any tensions it could just as easily make things worse – “I had to use up my PTO for [X reason] but now Jane gets a whole week to be sad about her dead dog??”, that kind of thing. And it’s not like she isn’t being given any time at all, she’s already been given 25 hours – that’s about 3 days, isn’t it?

      3. Bagpuss*

        I think it could go either way – you would probably have a good reaction from the affected employer and perhaps some others, but equally others might find it offensive and feel it was trivializing their loss of someone were given the same leave for an animal as for a close family member such as a parent or sibling , so you might cause as much resentment as goodwill.

      4. SimplytheBest*

        This is really overselling it. My employer giving another coworker some extra PTO because her cat died is not going to be something I remember a week or two after it happened.

        1. SimplytheBest*

          And, let me also say, my employer giving my coworker some extra PTO because her cat died is not going to be something I even *know* about, because I don’t track my coworker’s PTO and my employer does not discuss with me what pot of leave people are using or how much they have left.

    2. Ampersand*

      I believe the offer was for the 25 hours to be coded as bereavement, leaving the employee with all 48 of PTO, which seems plenty generous. To have to use PTO after 3 days plus the weekend seems fair regardless of the PTO policy, which isn’t mentioned.

    3. EPLawyer*

      120 hours of PTO for the year is 3 weeks. That’s a LOT. To have 8 days left going into the holidays — plus whatever days the company has off for the holidays is still plenty. Is someone going to take two weeks in December? Not a lot of people do that. Nor do companies allow it because then someone else can’t take ANY time in December.

      This person has plenty of PTO left.

      1. Tali*

        That’s really not a lot of PTO!
        It might be standard for many places in the US, but objectively 15 days is not a lot of time off for a whole year! Especially if you expect people to use it not just for “vacation” days but also for mental health, personal days, logistics, appointments etc.

  24. Casper Lives*

    I’m not sure what to think about #3. Usually most workers in non profits aren’t making a lot. Why are they fundraising for another cause at work? The boss is changing something that used to be a fun activity into a money pressure. I say pressure because they want everyone to donate, especially with no costume.

    It’s odd.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve worked in nonprofits for most of my career, and this struck me as odd as well. Nonprofits where I’ve worked havehad policies that you couldn’t actively fundraise in the workplace for other organizations.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think regardless of the type of employer, if they framed it as everyone has to donate (either to be allowed to dress up or to be allowed to opt out of dressing up) then it’s not OK – both because they should not be pressuring their employees to donate, even if it’s ‘only’ $1, but also because they should not be seeking to dictate what cause there employees donate to.

      Even if it is for a charity, there may be charities where an employee could have a moral or ethical objection to donating.

      For one non profit or charity to ask staff to fund raise for a different cause is a bit odd, but much less problematic as long as it is genuinely voluntary and no-one is pressured to donate or penalised for not doing so

    3. TeamDevo*

      Agreed, I’ve spent my whole career in nonprofits and think this is odd, especially because the employees had no say in which charity this event was supporting, and it is happening during the work day (when arguably their donors are paying them to be working toward their mission, not another organization’s).

    4. Rose*

      I’ve spent my career mostly in nonprofits and I thought it was weird too. It doesn’t seem like there’s really a good way to opt out if you don’t have a costume at the ready. I live in a tiny apartment (to save money) and I don’t own any costumes (small closets). For me , opting out would require at a minimum buying some black cat ears or something, which is more annoying and expensive than just donating the dollar. Even to donate the dollar I’d have to go take cash out and change a $10 or $20. But more importantly, I don’t want my employer forcing me to donate money to any cause regardless of how much or little money it is. It’s an overstep.

      1. CoveredinBees*

        Yeah. I just don’t like dressing up in costumes, tbh. It just isn’t fun for me and I usually opt for things like splattering an empty cheerios box with red paint to be a “cereal killer” or wear a black turtleneck and a “Steve” name sticker on it to be Steve Jobs. Thankfully, I’ve never worked in an office where dressing up would be appropriate.

    5. FrivYeti*

      Another nonprofit worker chiming in to say that I literally tensed up when I read that the CEO of a charity was using a holiday party to fundraise for a different charity. It just feels deeply wrong to me.

    6. Mynona*

      My arts/culture nonprofit employer has a Halloween fundraiser for United Way where you “pay” $1 to vote on the best Halloween costume. It’s odd but elective, so where’s the harm? I’m not into Halloween and I chose to give to other arts/culture nonprofits, so I pretty much just ignore it.

  25. Katherine*

    #1 I can see both sides, but I will say that Allison’s answer does cause an issue in one way. If those bereavement hours are intended to be used to organise funerals, etc, and people are given a week to take care of this, what happens with religions where people are buried the same day or the next day? Should they get fewer hours because everything will be expedited? Of course not, but it’s murky territory and is extremely Christian-focused.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      As someone who was raised in a Christian denomination where burial occurs within three days if possible, no, not ‘everything’ is expedited.

      The funeral is a small part of post-death arrangements, the legal and administrative sides (or as you term it, the ‘etc’) can extend for weeks and months. Bereavement leave exists so the biggest bulk of those is dealt with.

    2. Wednesdays we eat chicken*

      Things like canceling contracts, clearing out living spaces, placing dependents left behind, etc. are pretty inclusive issues, though. After watching my brother-in-law deal with his mother’s, father’s, and aunt’s estates on his own in rapid succession, I learned a lot about just how much painful tedium it can involve.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        And as someone else pointed out in a thread above, so many of the administrative tasks can only take during business hours. Not exactly the most convenient.

    3. UKDancer*

      In our company you can get up to 5 days compassionate leave for bereavements but you don’t have to take them all at once so you can take a few for the funeral and then others as you need them for logistical issues arising, probate etc. Even if the funeral happens within 48 hours, it doesn’t mean the other post-death admin can be done that quickly.

    4. Allonge*

      The burial may happen sooner but the rest of the administration required is the same (turn the water off, read the will etc).

      I don’t think Alison’s point is that bereavement leave is meticulously calculated to cover the exact amount of time required from an individual to handle an individual situation.

      It’s that as opposed to handling an entire grieveing process, bereavement leave is meant to let people do some of what needs to be done, for which they would likely have to take leave anyway.

    5. Drag0nfly*

      The leave policy is religion-neutral. It’s mourning-neutral. The point is that you still have things you have to do when a relative dies, especially a first-degree relative.

      As stated frequently, this is about the admin logistics. Even if there is no funeral you still may have:

      * Custody arrangements (if a minor has been orphaned)
      * Death certificate(s)
      * Insurance policies
      * Financial institutions
      * Reading the will
      * Turning off utilities (or keeping them on, depending)
      * Dealing with a mortgage company
      * Making arrangements to move out their stuff if they lived in an apartment

      None of those are an issue for pet owners. Those are all issues related to the deaths of humans, regardless of their religion.

      1. Kiran*

        Yup. And it’s not intended to give you time to take care of EVERYTHING that needs done. It gives you a bit of time and space to figure things out, make a start on the logistics, and deal with the immediate practicalities (funeral director etc). It’s a contribution intended to be helpful, not to solve everything. No one gets the entire thing handled in that time!

      2. ceiswyn*

        Actually, I think you’ll find that pets still require dealing with insurance companies and moving out their stuff.

        The logistical issues are far fewer, but not nonexistent.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          I don’t know what kind of pets you have, but a dog or a cat or hamster can be buried at home, in the backyard, or perhaps in some nature area where the pet liked to frolic. The average pet’s furniture or belongings is in the home of their owners.

          Pets don’t typically live in other cities apart from their owners. Pets typically don’t have landlords who require the owner to get permission to enter their pet’s dwelling so the owner can get the pet’s stuff. Pet owners don’t have to make flight arrangements to leave their *own* home to go to the state or the country where the pet lived so they can take care of the pet’s belongings, among other things.

          I suppose Fido may be ensured, but Fido won’t usually have designated heirs to receive the payouts, so there’s not much to contend with there. Fido also won’t have set up auto payments for the insurance that would now need to be canceled.

          1. J*

            My city bans pet burials. You have to turn them over to a vet for cremation, then pick up cremains. For a horse, you wouldn’t believe the complexity. That was more than I had to do for my grandparents’ deaths. This isn’t saying yes/no for Question 1, but a sign you haven’t considered logistics fully. If I burned through all my vacation time on the pet’s illness, I wouldn’t even have time to do that. At the very least, sick days should be allowed for all medical appointments including vet visits.

            And if you want to get into death benefits, 3 days is definitely not enough. I unfortunately am intimately familiar with 5 weeks in we’ve only just received death certificates for an intestate estate.

    6. anonymous73*

      The logistics are going to be different for everyone, and trying to paint this as a religion thing is grasping at straws here. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but the bottom line is that bereavement leave is for humans. If a company wants to offer a SEPARATE policy for pet loss, that’s cool. But if people think they could use it for pets, where does it end? FMLA for a sick pet? Parental leave or a pet adoption?

    7. Rose*

      Why would we need fewer hours to deal with lawyers, wills, life insurance, obituaries, breaking leases, listing houses, packing up personal belongings, procuring headstones, and all the other hundred of crappy chores that death produces than anyone else? A lot more goes on than a funeral.

      1. Stitch*

        My sis in law lost her father months ago and she’s still dealing with legal issues. He was buried pretty much as soon as the coroner released the body.

        1. Rose*

          I’m not really sure what your point is? The goal isn’t that you have enough time that everything be totally wrapped up by the end of leave. There are a lot of more urgent things that need to be done in that first week, or things that will take PTO and need to get done soon one way or the other.

            1. Stitch*

              Yes, I was agreeing. The delay had nothing to do with their religion, her father’s death was caused by a hit and run driver and so the delays in burying him had nothing to so with religion and to with the police.

              1. Rose*

                Ohhh I’m sorry I thought you were saying I was illogical bc it couldnt all be done in two weeks and I was… confused!

    8. Artemesia*

      Funerals are not the only logistics that deaths entailed. There is getting a head start on the legal work and sometimes the property work entailed in a death. My mother could not have been better organized or made things easier for my brother and me and yet there were still a lot of things to do to wrap up her estate, get death certificates, deal with closing accounts and services and memberships etc etc. Death is a lot of work for those left behind before we even mention the pain and grieving of loss.

    9. littledoctor*

      I’m from a cultural background where we have three funerals, one extremely small one three-ish days after, one a few weeks or months later, and the final and most important one a year later.

      I recognize that that’s very much outside the norm, and would just sort of hope my employer could make reasonable accommodations.

    10. Anonymeece*

      It’s not just funerals though. That’s certainly a part of it, but there’s also logistics about closing accounts, notifying proper authorities and family, etc. which is not just for Christians. Even if you’re not dealing directly with the funeral and other arrangements, with a close family member, you’ll often be supporting the person who *is* dealing with those things.

    11. SimplytheBest*

      This is a bizarre comment to me. Bereavement leave isn’t a vacation. Every company I’ve ever worked for, the policy has been “up to three days” or “up to five days.” You take what you need out of what is offered. You’re not losing out if your bereavement needs don’t take as long as someone else’s.

  26. Dan*

    In terms of what to do for the manager who referred you, any kind of monetary gift is definitely off the table, but a note to their manager (if you can find out who that is,) saying how much of a positive impression their follow-up gave you of the company would probably be appropriate!

    As a hiring manager it’s super important to me that I leave all candidates (regardless of whether we end up ultimately hiring them or not) with a positive impression of the company, and this manager sure seems to have done that in this case!

    1. Allonge*

      For me this would be weird. Just as you don’t praise your boss to your grandboss normally (or indeed evaluate their work in any way), it’s strange to give feedback on someone who could potentially be your boss or on their level.

      I would just stick with sending an email to the recommend-er and saying thanks!

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree that sending a note to the boss of someone who reviewed your application would be odd, but I don’t agree with your point about never evaluating your boss in any way. At good companies they should definitely be soliciting occasional feedback on that!

    2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      I don’t know. In my company, in my department, it’s a really normal practice to pass candidates along to other hiring managers when they aren’t quite right for the position they applied for but might be a good fit somewhere else. I wouldn’t expect any kind of special praise for it, least of all from the candidate. A nice thanks email is already more than is needed.

    3. LW#5*

      Hello, LW here! She was the manager of her department, so to go higher might be a stretch, but yes, she absolutely nailed the positive vibes from interviewing. It’s difficult enough to get to the final round, and she gave me the best possible rejection.

  27. Holly*

    For Letter 1, I think part of the issue is poor annual leave allowance in America.
    I’m in the UK, and we usually get 25+ days, and national holidays.
    If Letter 1’s firm was more generous with leave allowance, maybe the lady could just take some annual leave instead?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yes! Many Americans don’t get much PTO in general, and even if you are salaried it is still deducted/handled separately from your salary.

      But the real cost is to those paid on an hourly basis. Because without PTO, they won’t get paid for the time away. Losing a pet can be both expensive and traumatic, but it’d be even worse to lose your income for 1-2 days on top.

      But I also think asking for a full week (40 hours) was a bit much! It kind of smacked of the person trying to take advantage when they had already been given 5 more hours than the policy stated. Why must people push when a good thing has been given?

      1. Beth*

        Exactly — it’s the kind of situation that leaves some of us thinking “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

  28. Liv*

    Reading the comments around LW1, I feel extremely grateful that I work for a company/manager that’s super understanding. I can’t tell if it’s a specific thing to my company, or a difference between the UK and the US, but my dad died unexpectedly a couple of months ago. I text my boss that night to say I wouldn’t be in for the rest of the week and he said take as much time as you needed. In the end, I just took 4 days the week he died, and a day and a half for the funeral (the half day was at the last minute when I had a meltdown because the dress I had bought for the funeral didn’t fit and I needed to get into town before the shops closed).

    1. LDN Layabout*

      we provide 40 hours of bereavement for an immediate family member

      LW1’s company offer pretty much exactly what you got, for immediate family members.

      1. Liv*

        That’s true – but I could’ve easily taken more had I needed it. Plus there was no official policy to go round. Had I needed extended time off (i.e. more than a couple of weeks), then the family leave policy would’ve kicked in, but before that point it was just a ‘take whatever you need’ situation which I was grategul for.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          The problem with no official policy for the shorter amounts of leave is that it leaves it open to abuse from management. If your manager likes you better than a coworker and you get told ‘take as long as you need’ vs. them being told ‘you need to be back in the office Monday’.

          It’s 5 days in my office, with further days outlined/open to manager discretion (but there needs to be an explanation e.g. travelling for a funeral further away gets your travel days covered as well)

          1. Despachito*

            But it can also be conditional on your social capital within the company.

            Not in terms that “your manager likes you better than your coworker”, but if you have a history as an absolutely reliable person, it may be easier to tell you “take as long as you need” because it is more likely that you will absolutely not take advantage of your employer and you will only take the time your REALLY need, as opposed to a coworker who has a reputation of a slacker.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              This is…still bad? I don’t care if a person is a good or poor performer, if they’ve lost a member of their immediate family they deserve the same consideration as someone else in the same situation would, regardless of performance.

              1. Despachito*

                I do not refer to the time they are entitled to have by law, there they certainly do deserve it irrespective of anything else.

                I was referring to the “take as long as you need” part, which is optional and the employer does not have the obligation to give you that. I agree that the employer should do it whenever possible, even if he is not obliged to do so by law, and in an ideal world, the employer would do it and the employee will use – but not abuse it, and should do it even for far lesser things than a death of a beloved being.

                In a less than ideal world, I’d understand if the employer is more inclined to go above and beyond for a person known as reliable and pulling their own weight for most of the time. And I am still thinking more of a pet than a human relative.

                1. LDN Layabout*

                  Take as much as you need would fall under company or management policy, not law.

                  And it’s still an incredibly bad look to apply that based on how an employer ‘feels’ about an employee vs. having a well stated policy with manager discretion.

              2. SimplytheBest*

                Totally agree with you. Bereavement leave based on someone’s social capital or performance is gross.

                1. Despachito*

                  I do not argue – there should be – and in OP1’s case it seems there are – pretty clear rules about BEREAVEMENT (she says 40 hours of bereavement for an immediate family member and 20 hours of bereavement for a peripheral relationship.) I assume this is valid for everyone and cannot imagine providing THAT on the basis of social capital and performance.

                  However, OP1 is dealing with a completely different case – the employee claims BEREAVEMENT for an IMMEDIATE FAMILY for an ANIMAL. Immediate family is a pretty clearly defined category, and a dog just does not fall into it.

                  So this particular case (i. e. whether to concede BEREAVEMENT leave) IS upon the discretion of OP as the pet owner’s manager. Nobody is saying that the employee should not take time off for the death of a loved animal, and many commenters acknowledge that such a loss can strike really hard. We are just discussing the appropriateness of taking that time from the “bereavement” category instead of “sick days” or another type of PTO.

                  To me, it seems wildly inappropriate for the employee to insist on using the “bereavement” category and acting as if they were entitled to it, while in fact they are not. A dog is just not a parent, grandparent, child or sibling. Moreover, the employee has already been given what I’d consider quite a generous time off, and requesting more as “I want my 40 hours of bereavement I am entitled to” (instead of “I am devastated and I need some more time off”) seems to me as “forcing the hand” of the employer who has already done more than they had to.

                  Again – I understand that it is possible to grieve an animal with the same or even greater intensity than a human, I think the employee should absolutely be able to take time off, the only problem I have here is the insisting on the “bereavement” category and the fact the employee seems to be forcing the employer to accept this. I think this is what the OP is hesitant about (she absolutely wants to allow for the grieving but the employee is pressing too much and uses iffy arguments ) and if so, I fully understand it.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Where I work, compassionate leave is discretionary but there is guidance about how long would normally be given – typically 3-4 days .

      Compassionate leave covers bereavement and other emergencies – so can cover things such as a family member being hospitalized / serious ill even if they don’t die.

      I can think of two recent occasions where people have been given compassionate leave following the unexpected deaths of a young person in their friendship group, for instance.

    3. anonymous73*

      Yes a good manager will make exceptions when needed. When my mom died, I got 3 days bereavement leave and my manager said I could take more if needed. But the bottom line is that there needs to be a specific policy or else many people would take advantage of it unfortunately.

  29. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    #1 – we had significant admin when our cat died, because (without going into detail) it involved official investigations with the police and our animal protection agency. Two of us had to have counselling, and we never did find out who did it.

    It would never have occurred to me to mark any of the needed time off as bereavement leave (called compassionate leave here). I suspect that’s because I had other options including flexible working, good PTO equivalent and unlimited sick leave, not to mention a great boss.

    I therefore agree with other posters that this is more a failure of overall leave entitlement than the specific details of the bereavement leave policy. I’m glad OP is doing their best to permit the employee to be absent from work without penalty.

  30. Nupalie*

    LW #1
    I was desperate enough to ask for a day of bereavement leave when my dog died in December and I’d used all of my annual leave…simply because I had to dig a grave in frozen ground in my back yard and I needed several hours of daylight to accomplish this. I was of course turned down! And took the day unpaid thereby losing my annual bonus for that year. Logistical reasons aside, if your employee is going to be in tears all day(for any reason) then they should not be at work and should use whatever leave is available to them. If the offered leave is insufficient, I would consider a referral to EAP for grief counselling.

  31. Bookworm*

    #5: Thanks for asking the question! I’ve been in similar situations and have usually just sent an email but I read your letter and started thinking “oh no…” but yeah, an emailed thank you note sounds just about right. Good luck!! :)

    1. LW#5*

      LW here – thank you! I was just so grateful that she went so far above and beyond that I wanted to buy her bouquets of flowers and dance through the streets singing her praises. I got the job! I’m meticulously drafting a thank you email as we speak.

  32. Artemesia*

    A gift for a reference is a sour note; don’t do it. What really does make a difference though is a nice letter detailing how helpful the reference was and your pleasure in getting the new job. Everyone likes to see their efforts appreciated and it is surprising how seldom people send such letters. I have written hundreds of references and received a few lovely notes when students or colleagues succeeded in obtaining the new job — do this with some thought and you will be remembered (and you may need them to write again).

    1. LW#5*

      LW here, and yes, I completely agree. I just wanted to make sure that she knew how utterly grateful I was for her help in getting a foot in the door. Ultimately I got the job! I would love to cultivate that relationship.

  33. MissDisplaced*

    For #1 I think you are being quite generous with the 25 hours. If your company wants to be generous going forward, I think it could be reasonable to offer the “ 20 hours of bereavement for a peripheral relationship “ to include a pet. Is there a current limit on how often bereavement time can be used? I mean, realistically there should be a limit anyway, like say once per calendar year.

    Personally, I applaud the fact you’re even considering 2 days bereavement time for a pet. Many people don’t have big families any more, and this is a thoughtful benefit to offer to those who don’t. Plus, losing a pet can definitely take that amount of time and it would be nice to not lose pay along with your beloved pet.

  34. ecnaseener*

    #1: I’m curious about how the bereavement policy was worded, if the employee made a reasonable argument that her pet qualified as immediate family. Aren’t those policies usually pretty specific – “immediate family includes children, spouses, parents, and siblings” ? Is she arguing that her pet is *literally* her child or sibling? (This coming from someone who ABSOLUTELY considers my dog a member of the family and jokes that she’s my parents’ favorite child – but it’s not literally true.)

    1. Lab Boss*

      The policy as described by OP seemed strangely vague- what’s “immediate” vs “peripheral?” It may have even been deliberately vague to allow the employees to have some discretion on how close a given family member was- trusting employees to be honest if they say “she was legally my aunt but she raised me like a parent, and I need the full 40 hours.”

      1. ecnaseener*

        The letter says “she countered that her relationship to her dog fits our definition of immediate family” which implies that there *is* a definition given in the policy, not left completely open.

        1. Lab Boss*

          You may well be right- I read “Defined” as a loose definition, though- something like “immediate means someone who is or has been a permanent part of your household,” as opposed to “immediate means parents, siblings, and children, including the step- or -in-law version of any of the above.”

      2. hbc*

        Yeah, I think you’re right that they wanted to be officially flexible for unofficial relationships, and they left the door a little too wide open.

        Though never underestimate the ability of people to read what they want into something. My sort-of boss (an experienced manager) once resigned in April and tried to get all the pay for the *upcoming* holidays for the year added to his vacation payout. The wording in our handbook was completely normal boilerplate, but I guess didn’t explicitly say that you had to be employed on Labor Day to be paid for Labor Day.

  35. Shiba Dad*

    In case it isn’t obvious from my name, our doggo is important to me. I know my wife will be a basket case when rainbow bridge time comes for her. I won’t being doing great either. I wasn’t good when I my last doggo went over the rainbow bridge five years ago. Hopefully that’s a long way off with our little girl.

    That said, I would have never assumed bereavement leave would be applicable to pets. I think that it’s pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be, but I am also sympathetic to the idea.

  36. WhoNow?*

    #1 – I was able to take a day of bereavement for my cat last week – 8 hours. It honestly never occurred to me that was possible for a pet – & I am very weirdly attached to my cats – so once I found out about the policy, I actually had to contact HR and get it changed from PTO.

    I think the 25 hours is above and beyond. I lost my mom 2 years ago and I needed the week for logistical/taking care of my dad reasons – I didn’t use it for grief. My cat had some logistical concerns (he’s being cremated, so we needed to talk to the crematorium), but not more than a day of them. Not more than a 15-minute call of them, honestly.

    I think you’re awesome for even considering this, and I do hope you give a day. Pets can die in all sorts of ways, and some are more….traumatic than others and it’s a kindness to let your employees have a day or 2 to just be.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I think the 25 hours is above and beyond.

      I agree; it’s a compassionate gesture by OP#1 towards an employee it sounds like she values professionally. Hopefully once the grief starts to pass, the employee will realize that.

  37. NewYork*

    So what happens if next week, the guy who has 10 fish has a fish die? Where is OP going to draw the line? When someone has a fish die every other month? Is she going to write the policy only pets that are mammals?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Rodents have short lifespans and are mammals. Maybe write so only got tortoises and parrots that can live 100+ years get included? That’d be in the company’s interest and neither are mammals.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      Yeah, my Yoyo Loach is going on 23 years old, but my plethora of guppies get a flushing about every month.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Well this is usually handled by usage limits per calendar year. So 40 hours max per year, else you need to use your other PTO. Sometimes proof may also be required (obituary, funeral card, etc.)

      And yeah, there are always *those* people who try to take advantage by claiming their long gone Aunts, Uncles and grandparents are dying every month.

  38. Lab Boss*

    Tangential to the post, but my company doesn’t even require you to take all your bereavement time consecutively. When my grandmother passed I was allowed to take 2 of my 3 bereavement days for viewing/funeral stuff, and then a third one a few weeks later to help with moving furniture from the house. So in our case it’s very explicitly tied to logistics, with the nice bonus that they recognize the logistics of a death might not all happen immediately and on back-to-back days.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      That’s a very considerate and realistic way for your company to approach bereavement leave.

  39. AthenaC*

    LW #3: For the record, whenever I interview at a new company, I always ask about the maternity leave policies. Not because I personally intend to use them but because I want to know what kind of company I’m (potentially) going to be working for and what sort of support my teammates will have when they expand their families. I’m sure that gets me on everyone’s radars but if you needed something similar as an explanation, you wouldn’t be the first person ever.

    1. KWu*

      Yup, this is what I came to comment as well–if anyone ever actually asked you about it, it’s strong enough reasoning that you’re interested in all the benefits that your employer offers to see how supportive they are of all the current employees and it’s useful information for you to know for referring folks as well, in understanding how competitive the benefits are.

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      I highly suggest #3 go to the session before being pregnant because some things matter when you do them. For example, my employer at the time offered optional part-time disability and pregnancy counted as a disability, but if you were pregnant when starting the coverage, it was a pre-existing condition and didn’t qualify. (I have no idea if the ACA has changed this, it’s an example of things that it’s good to know before you are actually pregnant.)

      LW knows better than I do if they need cover, but if they are in a supervisory role, it could be good to know these things regardless of their own plans so they can inform their employees, even if no one currently employed seems likely to need it.

  40. CatPerson*

    LW1 while the policy does not need to specify that the family member has to be human, you can still edit the policy to define immediate family member. Such as spouse, child, parent, step-parent, in-laws, brother, sister.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Instead of brother/sister, please say sibling :) but otherwise I think defining “immediate family member” is worthwhile for the policy

  41. TPS reporter*

    Please tell me you heard Kendall Roy say “Open the kimono” on Succession last night! I had never heard it until a week ago reading on this site. So perfect for that character to say it. Now we know definitively it is a thing only the worst people say.

  42. I hate the word startup*

    When I had to put my cat to sleep (he was 16, and survived 8 years with diabetes), I took two days off.
    HOWEVER, I used my personal days and did not expect my employer to give me ‘bereavement’ leave.
    This would be the reasonable expectation. I’m not certain why a thinking person would expect an entire week off without using PTO for the death of a pet. (It’s also very generous for the death of a human–we only get three days for that, if its immediate family!)

    1. TPS reporter*

      Same! And honestly aside from the initial shock of the whole ordeal with pet deaths, getting back to work after 2 days can help. Real grieving is over years and obviously you can’t take that much time. I say save those days for another time, maybe take a trip and spread your pets ashes.

    2. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      I work for a large state university. We get no separate bereavement leave for people, much less for pets — I’d have to use “annual leave”. This is our pots-of-leave:
      Annual Leave
      Adverse Weather (only if the university closes and designates that non-essential workers as required to stay off campus. Doesn’t matter if the governor declares a state of emergency, btw. Causes resentment every year during ice storms, hurricanes, because it’s not safe to go to work, but you have to make up the hours or take from annual or bonus leave)
      Bonus Leave & Special Bonus Leave
      Civil Leave & Voting
      Community Service, Literacy & Tutoring/Mentoring Leave
      Compensatory (Comp) Time (EHRA employees are not eligible for comp)
      Employee Transfer Leave
      Educational Leave
      Family Illness Leave
      Family and Medical Leave
      Leave Without Pay
      Military Leave
      Paid Parental Leave
      Scholarly Reassignment
      Sick Leave
      Voluntary Shared Leave
      Other Management Approved Leave (restricted by the state. does not include bereavement)

  43. KellifromCanada*

    Re OP1 … I would err on the side of fairness. Think about how many employees of this workplace have lost a pet in the past and haven’t been given bereavement leave. How is it fair to them that this person is receiving 25 hours? And I think it’s a workplace norm that bereavement leave is for the loss of a human in your immediate family. Employers shouldn’t have to state that explicitly in their bereavement policy.

    1. Colette*

      It’s OK to change policies, even if others didn’t receive the same thing in the past – but I do think they’d have to change it for everyone going forward. They shouldn’t offer pet leave to one person unless they are going to offer it to everyone going forward.

      1. Anononon*

        Agreed. My last workplace was awful about this – I wasn’t allowed to take time off or bereavment to mourn an extended family member who helped raise me, but a co-worker was able to take 4 days off to mourn… a breakup. Our department was severely not pleased when they found this out and morale suffered, and I think OP 1 runs a significant risk of similar consequences if they don’t codify a policy around this.

      2. KellifromCanada*

        Yes, for sure. I just doubt they’d put that policy in place for everyone due to the cost, so it would be unfair to only give it to OP when many others in the same boat haven’t gotten this.

  44. Hiring Mgr*

    I would never assume this kind of leave would apply to a pet, but if a company wants to offer that why not? One small perk of an unlimited vacation model is you don’t have to worry about rigidly categorizing your grief – you just take the time off.

  45. June Gardens*

    We’re all getting weird about our pets. And I say this as someone with four cats and a dog. I think we’re so divided as humans right now, and that whole “introversion is cool” thing is more about how not connected we have become, that we’re getting weird about our pets. And I think it’s to the detriment of our pets and our human relationships.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      *nods* I have a friend who lives a hundred miles away from where she works, and commutes. Over quarantine, she got a dog. A shiba inu. For over 18 months, I have bitten back the question of what she’s going to do with/for the dog when she has to go back to working in person; none of my business, but I *do* wonder…

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      That is an interesting point about increased ardent claims of introversion and pets. (As an introvert who does a lot of “Wait, introversion doesn’t mean whatever you just tried to excuse ‘because introversion’…”)

    3. Delphine*

      Nonsense. People have always formed attachments. That some people grieve when their pets die is not something to diagnose nor is it something to look down your nose on.

  46. No Tribble At All*

    OP#1…. 120 hours of annual leave is not a lot. That’s fifteen 8-hour days. That’s three work weeks.

    You also don’t specify if it’s combined vacation and sick leave, so maybe part of the reason your employee is so insistent is because she wants to take off Christmas or wants to keep some days banked in case she gets sick. I sure know that I’m afraid of going *close* to using all my PTO for vacations because that’s also my only paid sick leave.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        All depends on your perspective. 120 hours away isn’t as much as covering a second job for 120 hours is.

        I’m glad I don’t have to set PTO buckets.

    1. ecnaseener*

      “She has 48 hours of PTO left for the year, so I believe she is mostly fighting this out of grief and principle” — similarly, 48 hours is only 6 days with the holidays coming up.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      Perhaps not, but three weeks is more annual leave than many, many Americans get. Almost every company I’ve been at requires me to work there for 5 years before I move to three weeks (except for the one that started with 3 weeks combined sick/vacation). I have a friend who has been at her company for 19 years, and she gets 2 days of paid sick leave, no paid vacation, and no paid holidays, and only gets the sick leave because the state requires it. That is incredibly common.

    3. Daffy Duck*

      Many, many American businesses give 2 weeks of vacation and 5-7 national holidays off. I don’t know where you are from, but a whole lot of folks would LOVE to have 3 weeks PTO.

  47. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I recently lost a beloved pet and my workplace was incredibly understanding. I technically don’t have any PTO until January (six months after I started) but they let me advance as much as I thought I needed – and it was mostly logistical days. Vets, monitoring her health for a day, and euthanasia arrangements. I think I used 3-4 days total and was encouraged to take more if I needed it.

    The same week my boss’s mother went into hospice and ultimately passed. She used three days of bereavement and a bunch of vacation time.

    I dunno as long as we were both able to take the time we needed I don’t think it matters a ton. The three days wasn’t enough for her, probably would’ve been enough for me, just on the logistical side. Human deaths are much more complicated and it’s okay to acknowledge that without saying pets don’t *matter*.

  48. reason*

    I would wonder what sort of monster my employer is if they did not let me take leave for my pet. Who is the employer to decide when it is appropriate to grieve and when it’s not and for whom? That leaves way too much room for subjectivity. The policy should simple be ‘X hours for bereavement” and let the employee decide when to use it. Policies like these exclude people from non-traditional backgrounds and/or non-traditional family set ups.

    1. Colette*

      Would X hours be per year? What if you don’t need it one year? Is it during the time you work at that company? A friend of mine had both parents die last year, a couple of months apart – that policy would mean you’d have to ration bereavement leave after the first death in case someone else died that year.

      No one is saying you can’t take leave when your pet dies; they are saying that that’s not bereavement leave, which is intended for close relatives, in most companies.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      They’re letting her take leave, it’s just not bereavement leave.

      My best friend is one of the most important people in my life, but I can’t expect anything beyond a day off for the funeral if they died. So I would likely take PTO.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      They let her take leave 9it was approved), but they are not letting her take from her bereavement leave bucket.

  49. Need a New Phrase*

    LW3 – your company should be encouraging ALL managers/supervisors to attend this webinar so they are better informed of the company benefits. This will help them support their teams better AND not put such a spotlight on only people who specifically need the benefit attending.

    1. Observer*

      That’s a good idea. It’s surprising (and distressing) how often managers are a blocking factor in people taking advantage of their benefits, because the manager just doesn’t really understand what benefits are available.

  50. Hiring Mgr*

    My overall thought on #1 is that for the most part (in the US at least, where I am) people get so little time off as is, i’ve got zero issues if they want to squeeze a few extras in there somehow.

  51. Holly*

    We get a certain amount of “special” leave which includes medical appointments, moving, furnace malfunctions and bereavements. If you select bereavement, nobody knows or cares who offer.

    I actually did take a day of bereavement leave once for my grandfather, who I was very close to. I know theoretically, bereavement leave is to deal with logistics of funerals. However, if you are sobbing uncontrollably all day because you lost your pet/friend/parent/spouse/sibling, you’re not going to be terribly productive at work. I don’t think “sobbing uncontrollably” I’d a good use of sick leave; it should be under bereavement

  52. Health Insurance Nerd*

    I love my dog, and would be beyond devastated if something happened to her, but I would never expect to be able to use bereavement leave for a non-human.

  53. GermanGirl*

    #1 I’m coming down on the side of bereavement leave is for humans but you should totally be allowed to take caretaker leave or sick leave or get a PTO advance or flextime or take it unpaid – whatever works best where you are, as long as your employer is compassionate and lets you take a reasonable amount of time off in a reasonable way.

    That said, I’m absolutely of the opinion that any of these options would only be reasonable if you have a significant amount of the relevant type of leave or in the case of unpaid time are pretty well paid to begin with.

  54. Blue*

    I have an emotional support animal. She is a beloved pet and also a family member, and I have no idea how I will be able to cope when she is gone. She is a dog who I have trained to help with my dissociative PTSD episodes, and her mere presence helps with my general anxiety.

    I don’t know that bereavement leave would necessarily be the correct thing when she passes, but I do know that I will not be in any state to function for several days (if I survive it)

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think that would fall under sick leave or FMLA – you’ll have lost an accommodation for your disability.

  55. Data Analyst*

    I think part of the issue with bereavement leave is the name. Not that I know what it should be called instead, but it’s like you hear the name and think, “okay, bereavement leave, the time you need to be…bereaved! As in ‘the period of grief and mourning after a death’ …so, I should get bereavement leave for any death which would cause me to be bereaved!” But that’s not really its main purpose and, as Alison says, that wouldn’t even make sense because nobody wraps up their grieving in that short amount of time! But, especially when you are IN grief, you hear “you can’t use bereavement leave for a dog” as “I don’t believe you can grieve a dog the way you would a human” and that’s, again, not really what’s being said.

  56. Jennifer*

    Regardless if you consider pets to be a part of the family or not (and I honestly wonder why people even have dogs specifically if they’re not going to treat them as “one of the pack” – dogs are huge pack animals and need to feel part of the family unit for their mental health), other people absolutely do.

    Relationships with animals can be every bit as complex and joyous and wonderful as relationships with humans … sometimes more so. To suggest that this employee wouldn’t need the full time to grieve is heartless and cruel.

    I’m still shocked at the forty hours though. My company (Canadian) provides 3 days for an immediate family member and 1 day for extended family. ANYWAY I really hate the corporate world sometimes and I’m going to go hug my dog.

    1. Jennifer*

      And yes, I understand that bereavement time is often for funerals and logistics, but that’s not the way the employer is approaching this really – they are most hung up on that it should *only* be for humans, so I think the employee is going to feel that the judgment here is about grieving humans vs animals.

      1. Jen, from the library*

        Gah somehow my comment posted without me telling it to!

        Was going to say that’s amazingly sad that you only get 3 days given how often Canadians love to chime in about free health care and 1 year paid leave for children.

        1. De (Germany)*

          German here and I’d get the same. But I also have 6 weeks of annual leave and unlimited sick leave that I could use if necessary.

          Sure, a death could happen at the end of December when I don’t have much leave left over, but then I’d probably be allowed to just go into the next year with negative annual vacation. Or take sick leave, because no doctor would judge me fit for work if someone close to me died.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah I think a big thing getting missed is that x amount bereavement doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take more time – it’s more or less a billing code. If you have a bunch of leave otherwise it’s sort of a moot problem.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes. My company gives up to 5 days compassionate / emergency leave and can (by arrangement) give longer in exceptional circumstances. People also have a fairly generous annual leave allowance (5 weeks). If you need longer than the compassionate leave allocation you can take annual leave on top of it. One of my colleagues had an unexpected bereavement and took 2 weeks for example as his family were all overseas.

        2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Canadian here. Despite the free (if you ignore Rx and dental coverage) health care and (only very partially paid) mat leave, restrictive bread-and-butter PTO policies are pretty common here because it’s up to an employer’s benevolence. My large public sector-ish employer’s bereavement leave allowance is the same as Jennifer’s, so it cuts across all sectors.

        3. KellifromCanada*

          Definitely sad that most employers only give three days for bereavement, but I think it’s balanced by having more leave overall. Lots of employers here give separate banks for vacation, sick and family leaves. In my case, I get five weeks vacation (I’ve been here forever!), ten days sick leave and three days family leave. So, in the event of a family death, I’d use my bereavement leave, then family leave, then vacation until I was ready to return to work. In the event of the death of one of my dogs, it would be family leave, then vacation (but no bereavement).

  57. Jen, from the library*

    Another comment for #1:

    I love my pets dearly and my cats have lived to be OLD OLD ladies. When it was time to put them down, I just used sick time. One I had advanced notice, one was an emergency. But it’s my time to use. Was I sad? Yes of course. I was devastated about the first one since I was 40 and putting down an animal for the first time. I had plenty of sick (or vacation) and that was that. I don’t think there’s a need for special pet leave bc then you get the crowd of “I don’t have pets, where’s MY extra time for this or that?” Using regular PTO should be acceptable.

    A grandparent in law died 18 mos ago (not covid), who was a 2nd parent to my spouse. He was a mess, I had grown to love GPIL as my own, so I was sad too, but was mostly worried about spouse. I had to take off time while GPIL was ill which was vacation whoooo, then for the funeral. I did get some bereavement PTO even though there’s no policy for GPIL, just one’s own GP or parents in law. So my boss and I agreed on 2 days; I don’t have any living GP so it’s not like I’d be doing this again anytime soon.

    What was worse was months AFTER the funeral, even today. Spouse inherited a large chunk of the estate and needed so much time to deal with banks, real estate people, lawyers, etc. For various reasons, I had to go with him, so THAT is when I burned through PTO. So many think death and grief is resolved after the body is buried…it’s rough while we are still going through issues with the other heirs, the executor may be stealing from the estate, family drama from unresolved trauma. That’s when you really need some kind of leave…it’s exhausting and brings up so much stress. (Apparently this a “thing” common after a death but no one talks about it.) Also I’m not talking about millions of dollars here, so the fact there’s this much drama is RIDICULOUS.

  58. mmm hmmm*

    LW# 1-if you’re going to start offering paid bereavement leave for the death of a pet, you’d better make sure you have a hell of a paid leave policy for the non-birthing parents after the birth of a child.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Why? It’s bereavement leave, not parental. They can have bereavement leave for a child, adopted or bio.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think what they were getting at is “sort out your policies for leave-related-to-humans-in-one’s-household before moving on to address anything pertaining to non-humans in one’s household”.

  59. Observer*

    #3 – Alsion’s advice is spot on. But a couple of additional thoughts for you.

    You say “I think it’s unlikely that someone from HR is going to ping my supervisor with a heads-up that I might be having a baby soon.” I don’t know how competent (or incompetent) your HR is. But HR would have to be incompetent and dysfunctional in a number of ways for that to happen. Not the least of it being that the idea of attending a seminar on family leave benefits = “might be having a baby soon” is a leap worthy of an Olympic long jumper. There are also legal and practical reasons why any reasonable HR would not ping a supervisor even if they had actual solid reason to believe that someone was likely to become a parent in the (relatively) near future. So, overall unless you have reason to believe that your HR is highly problematic, this is just not something to worry about.

    Also ” because it’s none of my coworkers’ business. It feels weird to out myself as a prospective parent to HR.” In all probability, *IF* your HR is thinking about this at all, it sees you as a prospective parent, regardless of your attendance at such a seminar. But I would hope that they are NOT thinking about it or speculating.

    On the other hand it’s possible to take “no one’s business” a bit to far. What I mean is that no one should be speculating or asking you any questions about it. And you should always feel free to decline to discuss it. But not doing something of benefit to you just to make sure that someone might not get a piece of information that MIGHT lead them to draw possibly incorrect conclusions about your plans? Now, I’m not talking about the possibility that you could be harmed by that kind of thing. You know your workplace and if you have reason to think that this kind of speculation would happen and have a negative effect on your tenure, that’s a different issue. And I would agree that you should definitely factor that in (even though it should not be necessary.) But if your real concern is just that it’s no one’s business I think you are putting a bit too much emphasis on it.

  60. Jen, from the library*

    Also re #1.

    My mom got 5 days for my grandmother, her mom.




    Especially if you’re executor?? Lol you need more time than that. The death certificate isn’t ready right away. My mom was lucky enough to split up the 5 days and take it as needed. But still.

  61. AngryOwl*

    I think the manager in LW1 is fine to not offer the remaining two days, and I’m glad the employee was given the time they were. That said… 3 weeks is not so much PTO that it should be used as a reason to deny further bereavement leave.

    I also think that there shouldn’t be specifics for bereavement leave (saying immediate family or anything else). Relationships are complex and it should be up to the person to decide if it’s necessary.

  62. Bob-White of the Glen*

    My pets mean a lot more to me than most of my family, including my abusive, alcoholic, lawyer brother. I do not think a day off for the loss of a pet, to get over that shock and deal with that horrible first day, is unreasonable. Not a week – agreed that is for logistics, but a little time to acknowledge that for some of us, our pets really are the most important thing in our lives. Our best friends, confidants, mental health practitioners, and comfort blankets. For some of us we are going to be useless for (at least) a day as we deal with very real grief.

  63. Name Goes Here*

    W/ #3 (parental benefits) I’d echo Alison in saying that you have little to worry about, as far as your attendance at these benefits sessions getting back to your department.

    I also work for a university and there’ve been a ton of new online webinars during the pandemic. Registration w/ a work email does two things, IME: 1) proves you’re actually an employee, not a wannabe troll; and 2) provides an email link for the Zoom/Teams/etc link to be sent to. At least at my institution, people are too busy / there are too many webinars to be sending off lists of registrants to other people’s departments or bosses. This isn’t to say it could never happen, but it seems unlikely to me.

    1. Genny*

      In addition to the points you raised, it also helps HR broadly track whether staff are interested in various webinar topics, whether certain webinars need to be held more or less often, which days/times are most convenient for staff, etc.

  64. Daisy-dog*

    #3 – Is the event actually being hosted by your HR team? Or is it actually presented by your company’s disability & leave administrator? Or medical insurance provider? Or possibly the insurance broker? Overall, HR may get a list of attendees, but I highly doubt they would sift through the list of attendees and try to determine who they know already is pregnant and who might become pregnant soon. Even HR is the host of the event, that is a lot analysis to be done on a list of attendees during what might be Open Enrollment for your company.

  65. monogodo*

    Re #1:

    I had a cat that I got as a stray kitten in 1995. He lived to be 20, and was my buddy through that entire time. When he died, I asked to use sick time for the single day I took off to have him put down, with the justification that it was a “mental health day.” HR denied it, and said that, because it was a pet, sick time didn’t apply, and I had to use vacation time. I had ample supplies of both, and only wanted to use sick time because I was maxed out on it, and some of it was going to drop off as unused, anyway.

    At that same employer, when my grandmother died, the internment of her cremains was planned for the Thanksgiving weekend. I was able to combine bereavement, holiday time, and minimal vacation time to travel from Texas to Wisconsin to visit family. To satisfy their documentation requirements for the bereavement pay, I took a pic of the box of cremains in the grave with the headstone in the background, and emailed it to my boss.

  66. Liz*

    I’m really surprised at the notion that bereavement leave is for logistics. Of all the times I’ve lost a relative, I’ve only ever been the one dealing with the logistics side of things once. Usually there’s another surviving family member doing the funeral planning/registry office/house clearance where applicable and my only responsibility was to show up at the funeral. Any compassionate leave that was offered, whether I took it or not, I understood as being to deal with the initial emotional upheaval, and that varied greatly depending on the relationship. It seems strange to me that the time is offered supposedly for a purpose that is not going to apply to all recipients and also be denied to those who may, for varying reasons, may absolutely need it for those purposes.

    Given the subjectivity of grief, I really don’t think this is an area where it’s massively helpful to nickel and dime employees and go straight to policy. If you have the flexibility to offer a few free days to someone who is in distress over any sort of loss or emergency, I feel it pays to do so. Have policy there to fall back on if one side or the other is taking liberties, but I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful to leap straight to “but the policy states…” right from the get go. The discretion of a good manager is tantamount here, with policy in place to cover your back if need be.

    1. Colette*

      I’d say it’s for logistics (which includes attending the funeral and travelling to the funeral if necessary) as well as supporting those dealing with logistics (babysitting, emotional support, etc.). And it’s time to grieve. But grieving is not the reason the leave is provided (and won’t be done in the few days you get).

  67. blink14*

    On the first letter – I lost my cat of 16 years at the beginning of the summer, in a very traumatic way, and it was and continues to be devastating. I was in complete shock and physically not able to function enough to work in the few days after, barely functional for a month after, and am still now in the grieving process. I took 2 personal days, and had that not been available, I would’ve taken sick time or vacation time. Again, I was not functional. I could not work unless it had been an absolute necessity. I am lucky that my organization has significant PTO. I will never totally get over what happened and will miss my cat for the rest of my life.

    I think it’s poor form to underestimate how important an animal/human relationship can be, and the toll losing your pet can take on you physically and mentally. Animals do so much more for us – reduce stress, create routine, provide love, attention, and happiness. So at least acknowledge the loss.

    My organization offers up to 3 days of bereavement leave and it is specified for immediate family only, which is defined as: parent, sibling, spouse, child, grandparent, and immediate in laws. And in a place where we have a lot of PTO, that is very reasonable and expected. 120 hours of PTO, assuming its vacation and sick/personal time altogether, is pretty baseline, and so I appreciate that the LW’s company offers 40 hours of bereavement, but by not defining it so specifically, there is room for interpretation. Maybe this is a situation that illustrates why having an extra couple of days of PTO or specifically defined as personal days is so important. Whatever your feelings are or your company’s, a person’s grief is real and can interrupt their ability to work.

    1. Jennifer*

      I have nothing to say except how sorry I am for you and how sad. Sending biiiig hugs and so much love to you and the memory of your beloved cat.

  68. calonkat*

    #4 on the costume party (because grief is still to near the surface to discuss)
    My standard “costume” for the office is a headband with a sims plumbob attached. And whatever clothes I happen to have. I work for in a government office and the number of people who have “gotten” it outside of the IT department stands at zero. But it counts as “taking part in the festivities”.

    Even simpler is saying your costume is that of an office worker or that you are cosplaying as yourself. If they insisted that you pay money still for “not wearing a costume” then your outfit is immediately “worker in a workplace with a financial penalty for showing up to work”

  69. NeedRain47*

    My cat of 18 years passed away less than two weeks ago. I am entirely heartbroken and my boss is very understanding. But I still had to take a couple days of my existing vacation time and go back to work. For me the issue is not so much that I don’t get bereavement leave but that I have to pretend that I’m perfectly okay all day every day, as if all my grief had to be contained to those days. I don’t know what my point is other than that losing a pet super sucks and sucks even more when you’re expected to get over it immediately, paid leave or no.

    1. blink14*

      I am with you, friend. I lost my 16 year old cat earlier in the year, and it has devastated me. You have it exactly right – you’re grieving and you have to deal with it on a day to day basis. My immediate co-workers are all animal lovers, and were very understanding. I took a couple of personal days, but I was not mentally at there for quite awhile once I returned to work.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      This is not limited to animals, people very often don’t know how to deal with visible grief.

      Death is a taboo subject in a lot of societies these days and it inevitably leads to really poor outcomes for everyone involved.

      1. NeedRain47*

        You’re right, it doesn’t matter much who dies, we’re largely expected not to let it have any external effects.

    3. librarianmom*

      Nobody expects you to be “over it” right away. They expect that you can regulate your emotions enough to function after a few days. My parents have died, my sister has died, my sister-in-law has died. After a few days I went back to work. Was I all done grieving? No. But I was in control of myself.

      1. NeedRain47*

        Maybe no one expected you to be over it, but you don’t speak for me or for my life experience.

        1. monogodo*

          First, let me express my condolences for the loss of your companion.

          Second, if your “very understanding” boss expected you to be “over it” after two days, they’re not actually a “very understanding” boss. They actually are a horrible boss, or at the very least, insensitive.

      2. Jennifer*

        “But I was in control of myself.”

        Maybe you were. Others don’t have that capability. Have some compassion.

  70. SpiritualNecessity*

    “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” — Rabbi Earl Grollman

    When my grandfather died, I literally didn’t feel anything. He was a racist old man that I never got along with. When my dad died, I was sad, but we’d seen it coming.

    When my cat died earlier this year, I was immovable with grief for over a week. I couldn’t eat. It’s months later, and I still can’t sleep because she’s not there. She was my trained ESA, who would use pressure to snap me out of panic attacks. She saved my life with my depression more times that I could count. I would have traded years off my life to have more time with her. And I now resent the FUCK out of my manager, because I had asked a year ago to more slowly transition back to the office, because my cat had developed anxiety when I would leave, and my vet was seriously reccomending a slower transition for her own health (she was 21). My manager robbed me of more time with her, all because they wanted to “look busy.” (Direct quote). There was no reason I had to go from full-remote to full-in-person when I did, and she has even agreed that I was more productive remotely.

    When I quit, my manager’s attitude is going to be a big reason why. If you have an employee who gives you their all most of the time, especially if they’ve been doing more with less during a pandemic. Shut up, take the hit on staffing for the week, and let them take the time they need. Grief is a monster that cannot be controlled, and trying to police it with policies that are detrimental to a human’s mental health is only going to drive away the people you want to keep.

    1. Firm Believer*

      I’ve had a similar situation this year so I totally commiserate. That said I’m not sure how you are holding such anger towards your boss for something that happened what sounds like a year before she passed. Your manager could have been more sensitive but they are not responsible for the passing of your friend. Also, bereavement and PTO policies are designed to support you in times of loss but they aren’t intended to be more than that. I’m not sure where the hostility comes from.

  71. Stealth on this one*

    I dread the day I lose my dog, I will need time but I would not categorize it as “bereavement” leave. When my mother passed away, my brother and I handled the arrangements. We work regular 9-5 jobs and utilized the leave to handle things. Our siblings (his siblings) are in higher ed. My mom was very private and it was going to be a family only memorial thing. But my siblings decided it was inconvenient at that time and we could do it next summer. Well those of us with regular jobs couldn’t take our bereavement NEXT summer we needed to take it now. So we ended up not having a memorial.

    Funny thing is all those siblings still took bereavement, but not to handle things.

  72. Meep*

    I am sympathetic to LW#3 on feeling like it is a trap. I work for a small company with no family leave plan because one hasn’t been thought up. I have been threatened no more than three times for possibly being pregnant (I wasn’t) where it was heavily implied by my boss at the time that I would be fired for “inconveniencing her” (her words). It has really made me hesitant about starting a family. On top of it all, women are often punished for having children.

    However, I think at a University level, you should be safe. If for some reason your supervisor finds out you can just say you wanted to know more about it in the far future. Your reproductive system has nothing to do with them, though, so unless they are as wicked as my former boss, I doubt they will.

    1. Observer*

      Please do NOT make your planning about starting a family contingent on your job. It would be a bad idea in any case. But ESPECIALLY in this case. You know that this job is highly unstable, and you have a boss who is a monster. You are far better off starting to look HARD for a new job or taking whatever steps you need to, to make yourself more employable.

      In the meantime, document what your boss said to you. Depending on the size of your company it’s quite possible that what she said is illegal, which could give you some protection.

  73. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1’s case: For those advocating for bereavement leave for pets, please tell me where to draw the line. Do only dogs and cats count? or guinea pigs? or goldfish? or emotional support snakes? how many pets can you have bereavement leave for in any given year? My BFF has several guinea pigs, and lost two last year, first a daughter then a mother. She promptly adopted two more, and has now married a guy with a cat, and they’re planning on getting a dog too…. Should it only be for people who don’t have significant family members to lose? Or only those who don’t have children? What about someone who still has their parents living but is not close to them any more and would grieve their dog more? Just how many of the worms in this can we’re opening would qualify for bereavement leave?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      guinea pigs?

      I’ll die on that hill (figuratively, at least). I did the same thing your BFF did earlier in life–at one point our herd was 13 guinea pigs strong!

    2. monogodo*

      Ok, what about people like me whose mother is more like a friend of the family? My mother gave birth to me (caesarean), and that’s about it. They divorced before I was in kindergarten. I have no memories of her being my mother. (And before anyone asks, I’m not blocking the memories out, because I can distinctly remember other things from that time.) My dad and his third wife raised me. I talk to her maybe once a year. Should I get bereavement time when she dies?

  74. TimesChange*

    On OP3 — I don’t think it’s a trap, but this title, virtual baby shower, totally makes it seem like baby actively on the way which could make it feel awkward/trap-ish when you just want to go for “sometime in my future, probably babies”. I might send them feedback to not label it that and go with a more generic/descriptive title. Like just “Review Parental Leave Benefits.”

    They’ve recently announced a series of webinars about parental leave benefits (it’s been branded as a “virtual baby shower”) and they’re encouraging both expectant and new parents as well as “employees who are planning a family” to attend.

  75. Lizy*

    My son recently left our house, in a pretty tumultuous, painful, and traumatizing way. To be clear – this is nothing we could have expected or foreseen, and there is nothing we could have done to prevent this. I’ve had to take time off, initially because of the shock and yes, grief, and then more here and there to deal with the aftermath. We have lost our son. I have never experienced grief like this before, and will probably never again, and I do not wish it on my worst enemy. I never once even thought about asking for bereavement leave, because … it’s not.

    I’m not at all trying to discount OP’s employee’s grief, but as Alison said, bereavement leave isn’t really meant for grief.

    I hope they find peace. Losing any loved one sucks majorly.

      1. Observer*

        Only death creates bereavement? That’s a pretty narrow view of the issue.

        On the other hand, in a way, you’re actually supporting her point. “Bereavement leave” has always been understood to refer to a fairly narrow (though pretty universal) set of circumstances. The fact that these are also generally circumstances of high grief doesn’t mean that all circumstances of high grief qualify for that leave.

    1. Tuesday*

      But I think Lizy’s point is that a lot of grief isn’t covered under bereavement leave, and whether bereavement leave applies is not a measure of how much a person is likely to be suffering (a lot of people are suggesting it is).

      I’m sorry for your loss, Lizy. That sounds terribly painful.

    2. Jennifer*

      I’m confused by your comment.

      The definition of bereavement is “a period of mourning or or state of intense grief, especially following the death of a loved one.”

      You don’t think that you can be bereaved from the death of a beloved pet? I really don’t think most employees or even employers would categorize bereavement leave as all about logistics and attending funerals anyway. Most people don’t plan “extended family members” funerals. But companies still offer leave for them. It’s about grief and suffering and … let’s face it… how “useful” that employee will be afterward. It’s time to grieve and adjust before returning to work.

      I also wanted to say I’m very sorry for the loss of your son.

  76. WoofMeow*

    OP1 – I work for a large pet food manufacturer in the US. We offer one day (8 hours) of paid time off for pet bereavement. Can be used once every 12 months. Just sharing in case you’d like to benchmark how much time other orgs give.

  77. GarlicSaltBae*

    LW #3

    I work for a large university as well. What could also be suggested (and what we do) is those sessions are recorded and added to a section of our online training program that administers all of our required trainings. We have a whole tab for things like that. You don’t get the Q&A section after the presentation, that’s for registered participants, but you can access and watch the videos anytime and reach out to the HR rep with questions.

  78. Rocky Mountain Hirer*

    LW#1 If you’re looking at modifying the policy to specify humans, maybe consider a separate policy for pets? “Traditional” family members aren’t the only ones we grieve. Your company already has a pretty generous bereavement policy, and I think acknowledging the importance that pets can play in the lives of many employees would be a lovely thing to do.

    One of the most unique benefits my employer offers is 2 days per calendar year of Pet Care leave for pet adoption or pet bereavement. In addition, our (human) bereavement leave is 10 days per calendar year, and includes not just immediate family but also anyone who filled a close or intimate role, even close friends. I think the inclusiveness of these policies speak well to actually walking the walk when we say we value employees’ lives outside of work, and the diversity of the definition of family. My little “furry family member” is 16 years old, and I’ve had her almost my entire adult life. I’m sure I’ll need at least those 2 days when her time comes. When my mom passed a few years ago, I was with a company that offered 5 days of bereavement, but they were one of those small companies that’s “we’re like family” which didn’t seem to really apply when my actual family died–I took the time, but I could tell there was some resentment about it.

  79. logicbutton*

    Why not extend bereavement leave to cover anyone you live with (human or animal), whether you’re related to them or not? There ARE logistical matters to deal with in that situation, and your life is being shaken up and you’re not going to be doing your best work that day no matter what your relationship is. Like, a human roommate may not be family, but if they died you could probably use at least a day to deal with your landlord and utilities and get their stuff together and so on.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Many people requesting bereavement leave do not live with the person who died. And yet, it’s their mom.

  80. Gina*

    #3 This is just a thought. But if anyone does ask about you attending you can just say that since you are so new you wanted to learn more about the benefits offered by your employer. And that you plan on attending as many of these “deep dives” as you can to fully understand all your benefits whether they apply to you in the here and now or later in your employment.

  81. Allison*

    #1 Personally, if a beloved pet passed away, or had to be put down, I’d want a couple days of bereavement, because a) I want time to take them to the vet if needed, have the body cremated, whatever else I need to do, and b) I’d probably be a mess at work, if I tried to push on with my everyday life. So I’d ask for bereavement, especially if I haven’t taken bereavement earlier that year, but I would accept it if my employer said “no, bereavement is only for human deaths, but you can take regular PTO for a couple days.”

  82. Orora*

    For LW #3. Speaking as an HR Director in higher ed: It’s not a trap. University HR departments have so much on their plates right now that no one is going to pay any attention to who went to what HR Lunch & Learn. Seriously, with vaccine mandates and disputes about masks, DEI issues and just plain being back on campus, their hands are full. They need registration so they know how many people to plan for — could be 3, could be 30. They need to know what size room to book and catering if that’s a thing at your institution. Don’t read anything into it.

  83. Leishycat*

    Regarding number one, time to kick the hornet’s nest…

    To someone who is close to their pet, bereavement leave should be offered the same as any other family member. The assumption that many previous commenters have made that the love for a canine family member can’t be the same as for a human one is, imo, pretty heartless – but heartlessness is what can generally be expected from businesses, so it’s not terribly surprising.

    While the ethically correct thing to do would be to give the employee the same amount of bereavement time as for another family member and make it explicit in the employee handbook, contact, or other documentation that pets are covered, by the standards of American capitalism the letter writer was extremely generous.

    1. Neptune*

      Coming in after 650 comments mostly on this topic, I think you can consider the hornet’s nest pretty thoroughly kicked before you got here…

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a real problem with “close to” as the standard for pet or family member or anyone else. We don’t want to set employers up as needing to defer any requested bereavement leave to the Are You Really Close? committee.

  84. Erin*

    I vote yes on pet bereavement leave. I lost my beloved 17 year old pup in 2019, and I had saved a week of PTO specifically for this purpose. I knew we were getting to the end of her days, and I knew I would need time. A week was hardly enough, but at least I had the PTO to use.