Productivity hit by parents caring for ill children   

Almost three million working days are lost each year to care for sick children, research finds.

Parents lose on average three hours per month taking children to medical appointments or staying off work to look after a sick child, according to a study by

A third of parents (34 per cent) say they had taken three or more days off to look after an ill child in the past year.

Some 67 per cent of parents admit taking a day off work to look after an ill child in the last 12 months.

Almost three fifths (59 per cent) of parents struggle to make last-minute childcare arrangements when an illness occurs, while 36 per cent of parents confess to roping in a family friend or relative to look after their child at late notice.

Almost one in three (28 per cent) of those surveyed say they feel uncomfortable taking time off work to look after a child, or take them to appointments, despite employees being legally allowed time off to care for a dependent.

Respondents state workload pressures (57 per cent) and presenteeism (31 per cent), the need to be seen working and present at work, as the main reasons for feeling uneasy about leaving work to care for their youngster.

Although there are no set limits on how much time a carer can take off work, employers can ask their employee to take annual leave or unpaid parental leave for extended periods of care.

Women (72 per cent) are most likely to take time off work to look after ill offspring.

Eren Ozagir, CEO and founder at says, ‘Concerned parents often lose a proportion of their working week trying to meet inconvenient daytime doctor appointments, or taking time off to look after them. The last thing parents need when a child falls ill is the worry and stress of work commitments and keeping up appearances.’

Residents in Yorkshire (78 per cent) and Derbyshire (73 per cent) top the list of regions most likely to take time off work to care for a dependent, as rural areas suffer from reduced primary care coverage and limited transport options.

Meanwhile those in Greater Manchester (47 per cent) and Newcastle (49 per cent) are least likely to take time off work.

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Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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