About 3 million working days are lots each year due to parents and carers being forced to look after sick or ill children, research has found.  

Doctor computer system

The research, which was carried out by video GP appointment service PushDoctor.co.uk also found that parents lose, on average, 3 hours of work per month taking children to medical appointments or staying off work to look after a sick child.

The survey found that:

  • A third of parents (34%) said they had taken three or more days off to look after an ill child in the past year
  • 67% of parents admitted taking a day off work to look after an ill child in the last 12 months
  • 59% of parents struggled to make last-minute childcare arrangements when an illness occurred, while 36% of parents confessed to roping in a family friend or relative to look after their child at late notice
  • Almost 1 in 3 (28%) of those surveyed said they felt 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 stated workload pressures (57%) and presenteeism (31%) – 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.

The researchers also discovered that the caring burden is still falling to women in the majority of cases (72%), as women were most likely to take time off work to look after ill offspring.

Eren Ozagir, CEO and founder of PushDoctor.co.uk, said: “Concerned parents often lose a proportion of their working week trying to meet inconvenient daytime doctor’s 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.

“Using technology to manage your health and conduct doctor’s appointments can reduce the amount of time they need to take out of their working schedule whilst also reducing the pressures in seasonal illness peaks can put on doctor’s surgeries. Determining the seriousness of the initial illness will provide parental peace of mind and empower them with the knowledge that they do really need to take time off to look after their children.”

Residents in Yorkshire (78%) and Derbyshire (73%) topped 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%) and Newcastle (49%) are least likely to take time off work.