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Health related benefits can help attract and retain top talent

Reception desk at a busy hospital

Access to private medical insurance and income protection insurance are among the key factors that people consider when looking for a new job, according to new research.

A study by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) looked at attitudes towards the role of health and protection insurance and private healthcare, alongside NHS services, in helping people to live healthier lives and preventing ill-health in the longer term.

The findings showed that health insurance offered through the workplace is an important factor for over half (57%) of people, and income protection is important for almost half (49%), when they are choosing where to work.

A separate survey placed income protection even higher.

GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, found that financial support if employees are unable to work long-term through ill-health, disability or injury, and financial support for their dependants if they were to die, was considered important to 76% of people when deciding which company to work for.

Support for physical health and wellbeing, such as access to non-NHS GPs, medical treatment, physio and rehabilitation services, was considered next most important with 64% of employees agreeing.

Day One statements

With employers now required to provide new workers with a 'Day One statements' about their employment, the ABI said that this should include information about health related benefits in order to support workplace wellbeing and boost productivity.

And the industry body called on the government to cut the rate of Insurance Premium Tax on health insurance to allow more employers and individuals to access it.

"The role insurers play to help achieve a healthy, thriving workforce can't be underestimated," said Rebecca Deegan, head of Protection and Health at the ABI. "The sector's investment in prevention and early diagnosis encourages people to take control of their health and live healthier lives.

"As the number of people out of work due to ill-health rises, it's also in employers' best interest to inform their employees about the health and wellbeing support available to them, both on day one of a new job and annually. This is vital to encourage staff to make best use of the services on offer to support them to stay in good health."

Rise in sickness absence rate

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that an estimated 185.6 million working days were lost last year because of sickness or injury, a new record high. The number of days lost per worker was 5.7.

The sickness absence rate -- the percentage of working hours lost because of sickness or injury -- rose to 2.6%, the highest recorded since 2004 when it was 2.7%. An increase in the sickness absence rate was seen across all age groups.

Minor illnesses were the most common reason given for sickness absence in 2022, while other reasons included musculoskeletal problems, respiratory conditions and mental health conditions.

Health related employee benefits

Health insurance can improve productivity and reduce absence in the workplace by covering the cost of private healthcare for both physical and mental health issues, enabling employees to get prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Health cash plans are another way that employers can help staff look after their health, allowing employees to claim cash back for routine health expenses ranging from dental care and eye tests to physiotherapy sessions and more.

Group risk benefits -- the collective term for employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness -- give employees and their families access to financial protection in the event of illness, injury or death. They also often provide additional support in areas such as prevention and rehabilitation.

Posted by Fidelius on July 10th 2023

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