Purpose: In Japan, although much effort has been made to promote the work-life balance of women and to achieve a society with prosperity and vitality, consideration of working environment including childcare support is still behind. It is necessary to construct an effective system to support childcare for both men and women. This study aimed to examine the system of sick child leave and improvement of childcare environment, by investigating the situation of absence due to illness among nursery children in Tokyo.
Methods: All the children who attended three nurseries in Tokyo between April 2011 and March 2016 were studied. The investigation was conducted for 4 days during August 2016. Data for age, sex and days of absence due to illness were extracted from either the attendance lists or health records of the children in each nursery for the period of 2011-2015. Children who were absent for the whole month were excluded from analysis for that month. This study was approved by the Tokyo Women's Medical University Ethics Committee (Approval Number 4040).
Results: A total of 1,834 children (989 boys and 845 girls) were studied. The average annual number of days of absence due to illness per person by class was 19.3 days in the 0-year-old class. The number decreased with age, and was 5.4 days in the 5-year-old class. The average frequency of sick absence per month was the highest in July and the lowest in June.
Conclusion: The present study showed that sick absence was the highest among the 0-year-old nursery children, indicating that a fine-tuned childcare support system such as allowing more sick child leave in the first year may be helpful to improve working environment.