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Employee rights in Ontario: When a worker's pet dies

People who have pets usually treat them like they're members of the family. So, when a pet dies, the sadness is palpable and the grieving process is real. When it comes to employee rights in Ontario, some organizations are flexible on bereavement time when it comes to family members, and that includes pets.

Even so, pets are still not included in the immediate family definitions in federal and provincial employment legislation. However, according to some experts, this could change in the near future. There is a push to consider animals as sentient beings rather than possessions or chattel. It is becoming more of a mainstream thought that a special bond exists between humans and their pets and employers are beginning to recognize this as well.

These kinds of emotional issues are causing companies to rethink some of their policies and procedures regarding their employees. A big policy change would entail companies including pets as family members when considering bereavement leave. Some employers are redefining the definition of family in a more non-traditional way.

Even though pets are not yet legally part of the employment standards act and, as such, not included in employee rights concerning bereavement, many employers do understand the impact the loss of a pet has on an employee and will consider each situation individually. Someone who loses a pet may wish to speak to a lawyer about what he or she could do in a work situation when needing time to grieve. An Ontario lawyer experienced is such  matters may be able to offer his or her client some prudent advice.

Source:, "Do workers need pet bereavement leave?", Liz Foster, Accessed on Oct. 2, 2017

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