A third of parents forced to take unpaid leave due to their sick child – MetLife UK

·       Two in three (68%) parents have had to take time off work or out of their business due to their child either falling ill or having an accident

·       Of which, over a third (34%) have had to take unpaid leave, and over a quarter (28%) had to use their holiday entitlement

·       MetLife UK calls for more workplace support for parents and their families

Two-thirds (68%) of parents have needed to take time off work or step back from their own business due to their child falling ill or having an accident. And, among this group, a worrying 34% have been forced to take unpaid leave, according to new research from MetLife UK.

For parents, life moments are constantly happening, whether good or bad. But when the ‘bad’ does strike, and their child is poorly or has an accident it’s already a worrying time for them. Naturally they want to be able to take the time off work or away from their businesses to care for them, but the added stress of whether they can get time off and any financial implications can make a difficult situation tougher.  

The research, which explores the challenges parents face, the milestones, and the financial protection they need to support them, also finds that more than a quarter (28%) of working parents have had to unnecessarily use their annual leave in cases when their child is injured or falls ill. 

The average time parents had to take off was four (3.81) days in the last 12 months. But when looking more closely, half (50%) of parents have taken up to a week off, whilst one in 10 (11%) have had to take longer.

 And even getting the time off work proves to be a challenge. A quarter (26%) of parents worry about asking their boss for time off work when their child falls ill, and 25% worry about not being paid when this happens. 15% also admit that their child getting poorly even for just a few days immediately triggers financial stress.

 Following having to take time off, parents admit to having to work late to make up the time – 14%. One in 20 (5%) employees confirm their boss has refused their request for time to take their child to the doctors.

 To support parents, MetLife UK has launched a first of its kind product that supports families should their child(ren) have an accident or become seriously ill. From just £6 per month, ChildShield provides financial protection should parents need it – for situations such as having to take time off work to care for their child(ren) – removing some of the stress and worry parents face – particularly if having to take unpaid time off – when their child is ill or has an accident. 

Beyond that, ChildShield includes a Wellbeing Support Centre Hub and a virtual GP service (GP24) to offer support 365 days a year, 24/7, so parents haven’t got to worry that they can’t get a GP appointment or prescription when it’s needed.

Rich Horner, Head of Individual Protection at MetLife UK comments: “When your child is poorly or has an accident it’s already a worrying time. But when you throw into the equation needing to take the time off to care for them, whilst juggling work, how your employer/team will manage, and layered with the financial impact – it can make an already tough situation much more stressful. Parents are already under immense pressure so where we can, we are supporting parents to help alleviate some of their concerns and help prepare for the unexpected.

“The fact is that despite our best efforts, accidents and illnesses do happen. And when children suffer something serious, we want parents to focus on being there in the moment your child needs you – not worrying about the financial impact should you have to take unpaid time off. This is exactly why we have launched ChildShield.”

The new product, which is currently available through selected distributors, will be widely available by the end of the year. Any firms interested in discussing ChildShield should contact MetLife.