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Employee Benefits News

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12 Mar 2018

Employee benefits should be extended to apprentices, says industry body

Employers can use employee benefits to help ensure their apprentices are treated equally, says Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body that represents the group risk industry.

Under government rules on employing apprentices, they must be offered the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles — including paid holiday, sick pay and benefits.

GRiD points out that, even if an organisation limits certain financial benefits — such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits — to a particular level of management, it is often the case that all employees, including apprentices, can access added-value support services, which can support wellbeing across the entire organisation.

For example, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are often attached to group risk products and can offer employees access to professional counselling and practical advice and support on issues such as debt management, relationship problems or health matters. Other extra support available can include fast-track access to mental health first aid and other help in the event of trauma or bereavement.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Understandably, an employer may feel like they want to wait until an apprentice qualifies before committing to the expense of benefits, but that is simply not an option under UK law. Organisations would do well to assess what provisions they´ve already made for existing staff that can be easily extended to apprentices at very little or no additional cost, and group risk products can fit the bill perfectly, as they can be some of the most affordable.”

GRiD also highlighted the importance of communicating these benefits to apprentices, many of whom will be in their first job and, therefore, less likely to ask the right questions or have the know-how to seek support, should they need it.

Recent research by GRiD found that only a quarter (26%) of organisations make a point of issuing regular communications on their benefits package.

It makes good business sense to ensure apprentices aren´t missing out on workplace benefits and support, Moxham pointed out.

“Today´s supported apprentices are tomorrow´s engaged and productive employees,” she concluded.

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