H.B. 712/ S.B. 260: Be­reave­ment leave with pay for pet deaths

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

Spon­sors: Demo­cratic Dels. Regina T. Boyce, Tony Bridges, Frank M. Con­away Jr., Keith E. Haynes, Stephanie Smith and Melissa Wells (Bal­ti­more City); Mary A. Lehman (Prince Ge­orge’s and Anne Arun­del coun­ties); Emily Shetty (Mont­gomery County); and Pat Young (Bal­ti­more County). Demo­cratic Sens. Mary Wash­ing­ton and Jill P. Carter (Bal­ti­more City); Joanne C. Ben­son and Obie Pat­ter­son (Prince Ge­orge’s County); Clarence K. Lam (Bal­ti­more and Howard coun­ties); Su­san C. Lee (Mont­gomery County); and Charles E. Syd­nor, III (Bal­ti­more city and county).

Synop­sis: Al­lows cer­tain em­ploy­ees to take paid be­reave­ment leave in the event of a pet’s death.

Anal­y­sis: For some, pets are like chil­dren or a best friend (don’t judge), and their deaths can be dev­as­tat­ing, es­pe­cially for those who live alone and who re­lied on the an­i­mal for com­pan­ion­ship. We would hope that em­ploy­ers would be sym­pa­thetic to that and al­low for rea­son­able leave fol­low­ing the death of a beloved pet per in­di­vid­ual poli­cies. Still, pets are not ac­tu­ally fam­ily en­ti­tled to in­clu­sion in the Fam­ily Be­reave­ment Act. Adding them would re­quire the creation of at least two full-time po­si­tions within the Mary­land De­part­ment of La­bor at a cost of more than $130,000 a year to in­ves­ti­gate an an­tic­i­pated 200 an­nual com­plaints chal­leng­ing the def­i­ni­tion of a pet (Gold­fish? Ferret? Back­yard chicken?) and the be­reaved’s con­nec­tion to it.

Editorial board rec­om­men­da­tion: Fail.

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