Staff worry they’ll lose their job for caring for sick kids

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How lenient employers are about leave to care for family can vary hugely between workplaces, but it seems many parents worry about losing pay or even their jobs because of missing work.

A recent University of Michigan survey shows that half of parents had missed work in the last year to care for children, with one quarter saying they missed work more than three times.

Along with the 33% of parents who were concerned about losing pay or jobs because of missing work for sick kids, 31% said they don’t have enough paid leave to cover the days they need for sick children.

Nearly two-thirds of parents of children younger than six years old in child care say their children could not attend because of illness in the past year. One-half of the parents of young children in child care said finding alternative or back-up care is difficult.

“Improving employee benefits related to paid sick leave appears to be important for many parents,” Andrew Hashikawa, clinical lecturer in pediatric emergency medicine at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “More supportive sick leave policies would allow parents to care for their sick children at home or give parents the opportunity to go to their child’s usual health care provider instead of the emergency room.”

Canadian full-time workers are in a better position than the 40m US workers who lack paid sick leave, a situation Hashikawa hopes to see change.

 “We hope these latest poll results will spur national discussion about the importance of providing workers with the tools they need to be productive, but also care for their little ones when they are not feeling well,” he said.

Forum question: What is your work policy on parental leave to care for children? Can your staff work from home in an emergency?


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