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12 Jun 2017

Group risk protection can help support staff with caring responsibilities

     Caring issues are a significant cause of workforce absence — but group risk products can help employees cope, according to industry body Group Risk Development (GRiD).

Employer research conducted for GRiD found that home and family issues — including the need to care for children, elderly relatives or other dependants — are resulting in absence from work and lost productivity.

For 61% of employers these issues are a main cause of short-term absence (less than four weeks), while almost half (49%) of employers said these issues are a main cause of mid-term absence (between four weeks and six months). For 43% of employers, home and family issues are a main cause of long-term absence (in excess of six months).

With a growing number of people affected by caring responsibilities, this is not an issue that will go away. And GRiD noted that as well as the direct responsibilities that take people away from their work, the knock-on effects of stress and deteriorating mental health can result in further absence.

So what are employers doing to reduce absence and support staff with caring responsibilities? Flexible working is the number one solution, cited by 36% of employers as one of the measures they have put in place.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented: “Employers know they need to address this issue, and flexible working is a good starting point, but it doesn´t go far enough for many. Employers may be at a loss as to what else they can do, and the solutions are far from simple. The good news is that there is a wealth of support available within group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness). This can include specific support for carers, access to advice, fast-track access to counselling and signposting to support groups.”

Moxham concluded: “Group risk products are not just about providing financial support, they have been developed to support employees in all aspects of their health and wellbeing. Employers that encourage the use of these support services as they are intended — every day if needed, even if a claim is never made — are the ones that get the best value and who are supporting their caring population most effectively.”

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