You’re a parent, you feel guilty taking personal leave to look after your sick children, don’t you? You see the looks your co-workers give you and you know they’re going to talk about you after you leave because the day care centre has called. Again.
Why do we still feel like we are letting our co-workers down when we have to use personal leave to care for sick children? We’re entitled to it, why can’t we use it?
Research shows a third of mums feel sad, guilty, stressed and anxious when they have to stay home to care for sick children. And in 90% of cases, it is the mother who does this. Children get sick. It is estimated children in formal child care fall sick 9-10 times a year. With full-time employees accruing 10 days per year of sick leave, mothers are using their annual leave to care for sick children after they have used their full personal leave entitlement. Could that be part of the reason we have sick employees turn up to work, they can’t afford to use sick leave themselves in case a child gets sick and they HAVE to use it?
Large businesses may have the resources to access Corporate Emergency Child Care programs for parents to access at short notice instead of taking personal leave and disrupting the business. For small to medium businesses, financially, this will most likely not be an option. And if your child is sick, do you really want a stranger, looking after them when all they want is Mum or Dad?
In small to medium businesses, you could be the only one on the reception desk, if you have to leave unexpectedly, what will they do! I remember years ago, I was the only administration person in a large retail store. The day care centre called, my son was sick and had to be picked up. As I walked out, there were five workers standing in a line with their mouths open, speechless I was leaving. They just had to cope without me that day, but the image will always stick with me.
I’m sure there are many parents, especially mums, who have stories to tell, experiences we all can learn from and advice for others so please share! We all have our own story, so let’s stick together and let the old adage ring true ‘it takes a village…’.