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