If you work, you may have already told your employer about your child's diagnosis. You can ask your CLIC Sargent Social Worker to do this for you if you prefer. Try to let them know roughly how long you will be away if you can.

You may also be wondering how on earth you are going to manage work in the long term. The truth is, it probably won't be easy. While work can give valuable structure to your life as you support your child through treatment, there may be times when it's simply not possible. In this case, if you are an employee, you have certain rights. You may be entitled to take some unpaid leave and also to work flexibly.

All I could focus on was my son. Things like work and bills I couldn’t deal with at all.

Time off for dependants

If you are an employee, you have the right to unpaid time off work to deal with emergencies involving a dependant, such as an unexpected or sudden problem. This time off can be used to deal with the immediate problem or plan how to handle it, but it can’t be used for long-term care.

Parental leave

You may be entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave if your child gets Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or if your child is not eligible for DLA but is under five. You can take a maximum of four weeks in any one year, unless your employer agrees otherwise. will need to have been in the company for at least one year.

Flexible working

Anyone can ask their employer to work flexibly, but if you have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks you have a statutory right to ask for flexible working. You could ask to work from home, for example, or to work flexi- hours or part-time.

Speaking to your GP

If dealing with your child's illness becomes too stressful and you are struggling at work, you could speak to your GP. They may suggest the option of a 'fit note'.

For more help

To find out more about your employment rights, speak to your CLIC Sargent Social Worker or go to or (Northern Ireland). You can also contact CLIC Sargent's welfare advisers by calling 0800 915 4439.

Content updated November 2015, next planned review 2016.