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Time-off work for sick a child

Any working parent with a boss faces the dilemma of a sick child: losing money (unpaid time-off) or using up holiday. Less money means the parents’ health and wellness may suffer. A work scenario: being disciplined for having too much time-off due to a sick child. What would you do?


The law is on your side

You can take time-ff work to look after a sick child, so long as it’s reasonable in the circumstances. Disruption caused to the employer’s business shouldn’t determine how much time-off is reasonable to deal with the emergency or unexpected circumstance involving a child.

The catch…

There is no right to be paid for taking time-off work for children, but your employer should not make you rearrange your working hours to make up for the lost time.

Can my employer penalise me?

No, your employer cannot discipline you for taking, or seeking to take, the time-off. It’s unfair to discipline you, if the reason is that you took or sought to take time-off, provided your reasons are genuine and it’s reasonable.

How to request time-off for children?

Notify your employer as soon as it’s reasonably practical and how long you think you’ll be absent (tell them if the situation changes):

  • Try to find alternative arrangements and keep a record of when you have tried then and why they are not possible.
  • Keep a record of all the conversations (or emails/letters) with your employer.
  • Obtain medical evidence from your GP if you need additional time-off for stress.

Dad trend

A recent survey found more working fathers report taking time-off to look after sick children than working mothers. This may be due to changing attitudes of employers and employees to the work/life balance/childcare. As more employers offer flex-working, fathers have better opportunities to share childcare duties. The survey found that sick children cost parents on average £231 per year, with 1:7 parents saying it costs them over £500 a year.

There is no limit on how many times you can take time-off for children, but your employer may talk to you if they think it’s affecting your work. Always check your employer’s HR policy on unpaid leave, parental leave, compassionate leave and emergency time-off.

ChildMax pays your take home salary while you’re on 12 months’ unpaid leave looking after a sick child. Premiums start from £49.50 or pay monthly for easy budgeting Get a quote with 5 questions which takes one minute.

Visit at or call the UK call centre 0333 323 0098 for more information.

Important: if you have a disciplinary issue for having too much time-off due to a sick child, please speak to an HR professional.



Date: 11 March 2019 by Max Robinson