More than a third of parents take unpaid leave to care for sick children

unpaid leave

More than a third (36%) of parents are having to take unpaid leave from work to look after sick or injured children, according to research commissioned by benefits provider MetLife UK.

The survey of 1,209 working adults, carried out by Consumer Intelligence in July 2018, also found that 44% of parents used their holiday entitlement to care for children who have been involved in accidents or were ill. More than one in five (22%) claimed it caused increased costs and expenses, and 33% of self-employed parents stated it cost them work.

Richard Horner, head of individual protection at MetLife UK, said: “Parents understandably need to focus on caring for children after illness or injury and the research shows that, unfortunately, it is an everyday risk with millions having to take time off work every year.

“That can be tough on employers who are under financial pressure themselves but it is still worrying that so many parents are having to take unpaid leave or use holiday time. It is even worse for self-employed parents who lose work.”

The survey found mothers more likely to take unpaid leave to care for ill or injured children, with 46% of women taking time off work without pay compared with 29% of men.

Almost two-fifths (39%) of parents told the survey they were concerned about the financial impact of taking time off to look after injured or ill children, and nearly a third (31%) of all working adults are worried about the potential costs of time off work to look after family members.

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Horner said: “Everyone needs to consider how they would cope if they have to take time off work, whether it is to look after children or other family members, as the financial impact can be substantial. Strengthening your financial safety net in the event of illness or injury enables families and individuals to concentrate on recovery rather than worrying about money.”

According to the survey, 63% of all workers would support changes in the law to improve rights for time off work and ease the pressure on families.