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Working parents taking 'sickies' to cover childcare

Once the kids reach school age, it's tempting to think that childcare is no longer an issue. Of course, for many working parents, the school holidays can present considerable problems - both economic and logistical. Childcare cover over a just a single half-term was on average £217, according to some recent research.

This may help explain why more than one in six parents (16 per cent) admitted that they had planned to call in sick over the last half-term, according to a survey by Vouchercloud. Almost a third of respondents were doing so to avoid the extra childcare costs, and 37 per cent said they didn't have enough holiday left to cover the period.

As many as a quarter of them were intending to call in sick for the entire week, a third were going to take two or three days, and 37 per cent one day only.

One in three of these parents thought that their bosses knew what was happening, and more than half thought they would 'understand' the reasons for taking a 'sickie'.

Rather than turning a blind eye to the problem - or just accepting it as unavoidable - employers could take a more proactive role in addressing the issue. Providing greater flexibility on hours, shifts and home-working arrangements could make it easier for working parents to meet their childcare responsibilities.

The effort of doing so is generally well repaid through improved employee loyalty, engagement and higher productivity- not to mention a reduction in sickness absences.

If you need free and impartial advice on absence management, why not call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Acas offers extensive advice for employers on flexible working, including its Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance . Acas also runs practical training courses on Flexible working, including developing family-friendly policies in the workplace, as well as Absence management.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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