Photo/Illutration A dog and its owner share a moment together. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

TENDO, Yamagata Prefecture--A local tourist hotel operator is taking the unusual step of granting its employees compassionate leave from work when their pets pass away.

The staff at Takinoyu Hotel in the Tendo hot spring resort can now take three days off when their beloved dog or cat either pass on or fall into a critical condition. 

Its new bereavement leave policy is “rare among businesses in Yamagata Prefecture,” according to a Yamagata Labor Bureau representative.

The hotel submitted its work regulation revisions to the bureau's Yamagata Labor Standards Inspection Office on Sept. 23 so it could introduce the pet bereavement leave and extend employees’ retirement age from 60 to 65.

The amendments formally came into force on Oct. 1, but the hotel put the new rules into place earlier, on the same day it made the submission.

Shinichi Sato, a managing director at the hotel, said the new leave system, under which pets are treated like family members, was proposed after a staffer became depressed several months earlier and had to reschedule a shift for a dog funeral.

Workers are allowed to take three days off, so they can “bid a last farewell to their family pets and mourn their loss,” Sato said.

The compassionate leave is limited to dogs and cats.

The pets must be added to an employee’s official family member registry in advance.

Of the 83 permanent workers at Takinoyu Hotel, more than one in 10 have canine or feline pets.