A recent study by MetLife UK has revealed concerning statistics about the financial vulnerability of working parents in the UK.

According to the research, 22 percent of parents could only sustain themselves for one week without pay if they had to take time off due to their child’s illness or injury.

On average, working parents could manage just over two months without a paycheck.

The study highlights that 9 percent of parents are in such a precarious financial position that they cannot afford to take any time off work for childcare needs, with 7 percent indicating they would have to quit their job entirely under such circumstances.

Also, over a quarter of working parents have no emergency childcare arrangements in place.

The cost-of-living plays a huge role

The financial strain is even more acute for a subset of parents, with 19 percent stating they could last only 2-3 weeks without pay. For self-employed parents, the outlook is slightly better, with an average of just over three months of financial self-sufficiency.

Alarmingly, 48 percent of working parents do not have a savings fund for unpaid leave if their child were to have an accident or fall ill. Moreover, 28 percent lack any support from family or friends for emergency childcare, leaving them particularly vulnerable. Specifically, 26 percent of working fathers and 30 percent of mothers are without any form of emergency childcare support.

For those without family or friends to rely on, 44 percent would be forced to take unpaid leave if their child fell ill or had an accident. Additionally, 35 percent would need to use their holiday allowance, 29 percent would have to alter their working hours, and 20 percent would need to reduce their hours and take a pay cut. Most worringly, 7 percent of parents would have to quit their jobs or find new employment.

What support do working parents have?

In response to these findings, MetLife UK has introduced ChildShield, a product designed to support working parents facing income gaps due to their children’s health issues. For just £6 per month, ChildShield offers financial protection, providing cash payouts to parents needing to take time off work to care for their children. The coverage extends to all children in the family up to 23 years old, including stepchildren and those no longer living in the same household. Policyholders also have access to the GP24 service, offering unlimited consultations with UK-based remote GPs available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Rich Horner, Head of Individual Protection at MetLife UK, emphasised the importance of financial protection for working parents: “So many working parents have no form of financial protection should they need to take time off to support their children. Accidents or illness are stressful enough, and financial concerns can pile on the difficulties that families face.”

He added, “Financial protection needs to be affordable and available to give parents peace of mind that they can focus their attention on where it’s needed most. Products like ChildShield help with reducing some of the worry and providing a simple, effective solution for parents across the UK.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.