One fifth of working parents could only last a week without pay if their child fell ill or was injured

  • 22% of parents could only last one week without pay; and the average parent could only last two months without pay
  • 9% simply can’t afford to take time off work for childcare needs, with 7% having to quit
  • This comes as over a quarter of working parents have no emergency childcare in place

Working parents in the UK could last an average of just over two months without pay if they had to take time off work, or out of their business, for a sick child, according to new research from protection and employee benefits provider, MetLife UK.

However, for a fifth of working parents prolonged time off work has a more immediate impact, with 22% admitting they would last just one week and 19% only able to stretch to 2-3 weeks at most without any pay. 9% said they couldn’t afford to take any time off work at all if their child was injured or became ill.

The research, which explores the perception and uptake of financial protection policies among the UK’s working parents, revealed the length of time working parents believe they would be financially self-sufficient improves to just over 3 months for those who are self-employed.

This comes as 48% of all working parents admit they do not have a savings pot set aside in case they need to take unpaid time off work or away from their business if their child(ren) were to have an accident or were unwell. And, concerningly, 28% of this group do not have any supporting back up in place from either family or friends should they need help if their children were ill or had an accident which called them away from work. Indeed, 26% of working fathers and 30% of mothers are without any form of childcare support should they need it in an emergency.

What’s more, among the working parents who are without family or friends to rely on for childcare needs, 44% would have no choice but to take unpaid leave from their employer if their child(ren) were unwell or had an accident.

In these instances, 35% said they would have to use holiday allowance, 29% said they would have to change their working hours, 20% said they would have to reduce their working hours and take a pay cut and – perhaps most worrying of all – 7% would have to quit altogether or look for another job.

MetLife UK’s ChildShield product, the first of its kind, aims to support working parents from experiencing income gaps or job concerns should their child(ren) have an accident or become seriously ill. From just £6 per month, policies provide financial protection which pays out cash when working parents need to take time off work to care for their child(ren).

ChildShield covers all children in the family up to 23 years old – including stepchildren and children who no longer live within the same household and policy holders and their families also get access to the virtual GP appointment service (GP24). This gives families fast and direct access to medical experts – including unlimited consultations with UK-based remote GPs available to book any time, day, or night, 365 days a year.

Rich Horner, Head of Individual Protection at MetLife UK commented: “So many working parents have no form of financial protection should they need to take time off to support their children. Accidents or illness are stressful enough, and financial concerns can pile on the difficulties that families face.

“Financial protection needs to be affordable and available to give parents peace of mind that they can focus their attention on where it’s needed most. Products like ChildShield help with reducing some of the worry and providing a simple, effective solution for parents across the UK.”