Fifth of staff don't know how their employer supports them during illness

Middle-aged woman working at a laptop while unwell

Do your employees know what support is available to them when they are ill or injured?

Making sure everyone knows and understands their entitlements is a legal requirement when it comes to new hires, and it can help avoid presenteeism -- people showing up to work while sick, rather than taking the time they need to get better.

As many as one in five (19%) employees do not know how their employer would support them if they were absent through ill-health or injury, according to new research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector. Another 16% think that their employer provides no support and 9% said they would only receive Statutory Sick Pay of £96.35 per week.

"Not only do employers now have to tell new employees about their sick pay entitlement by day one of employment, but good practice dictates that they shouldn't assume that their existing staff are fully informed on this," said Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD.

"It's really important that all employees, whether new or long-standing, know how employers will look after them should they become ill or injured. Sharing this information with staff is also beneficial as it demonstrates employers' compassion for staff both within the workplace and in a broader sense too."

The survey -- which involved 505 HR decision makers and 1,216 employees at UK businesses -- revealed that while some employers only offer the bare minimum of support when staff are absent through illness or injury, others go further:

  • one in ten (10%) employees say they would be given full pay for the first month compared to 5% who are offered reduced pay for the same period;
  • 16% say they would be offered full pay for the first three months, with 4% offered reduced pay for the same period;
  • 20% would be offered full pay for up to six months and 3% are offered reduced pay for the same period; and
  • 7% would be offered full pay for 12 months, with 4% offered reduced pay for the same period.

The majority of staff who take sick leave return to work within weeks or months, but some will need longer and might struggle to manage on Statutory Sick Pay.

An alternative to supporting individual employees through illness or injury is group income protection, which allows an employer to insure against this risk. As GRiD explains, typically group income protection can cost an employer less than 1% of payroll and will give a sick or injured employee financial security for a specified time.

"Contrary to some employer expectations, ensuring there is provision for long-term financial support is by no means a deterrent to the individual returning to work," Moxham said. "In fact, the opposite is usually true: an employee who feels supported can be more likely to make a productive return to their workplace."

Posted by Fidelius on July 19th 2021

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