Q & A: Time Off To Care For Pets

Question: Can we give an employee time off on bereavement leave when their pet dies? Or, personal leave to attend the vet?

We have an employee who has been with us for around two years.

They have a family pet, a cat, who has been with them for a long time.

This cat has developed an illness which requires them to be taken to the vets. We are told that the outlook isn’t good, and may end up dying or being put down.

Can we give the employee time off on personal leave to go to the vet, and a day or two of bereavement leave when the pet dies?


The sad thing about having pets, is that we usually outlive them.

While they are with us, we do form strong bonds with them, and most of the time think of them as part of the family.

The good thing about the Fair Work Act, and Modern Awards, is that they set the minimum standard.

Not the maximum.

While the Fair Work Act does is list the minimum of who it defines as “family”.

Not that only those people are “family”.

What this means is that for this situation, you are definitely able to give the employee time off as personal/carer’s leave to take their cat to the vets.

You are also able to give them time off as bereavement leave when that time comes.

If the employee doesn’t have enough accrued leave to take time off, the business is able to grant them the paid time off.

Or, you could allow them to make up the time owed for the vet visit over the new few weeks or so.

Remember, you are dealing with another human being here.

So how would you like to be treated if you were in their situation?

Whatever path you choose, have a conversation with the employee.

See what they want, and what the business is able to offer.

Good luck.


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