A quarter of employers do not financially support their employees when they are long-term absent from work according to our new research. For most employees, remuneration is the primary reason they work, and we believe that it’s important for employers to consider how they can financially support absent staff at a time when they need it most.
We know that meaningful work provides a number of benefits, including a sense of purpose and fulfilment and social interaction, but fundamentally, we also know that most people are compelled to work to earn a living. Many households have no savings at all and would struggle to pay their mortgage, rent or meet other financial commitments within weeks or months if they were unable to bring home a salary.
Employers really need to think about whether they want to be the type of organisation that does or doesn’t help their employees financially when they are absent over the long term. It’s not just a case of doing what’s right for existing staff but demonstrating how employees are valued is important in attracting future talent too.
Staff will find out their entitlement to financial support earlier than before
The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378) means that all staff now need to be told on day one of employment or before, what their entitlement to sick pay is, which means that employers who only offer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or other basic provision will be exposed.
By supporting staff financially when absent long-term, an employer is recognising that the individual is a person first and an employee second. That individual will have out-of-work practical, emotional and financial responsibilities which can quickly mount up when they are unable to work through illness, injury or disability. Providing financial security for staff is not simply about the payment in itself but it’s about demonstrating an understanding of an employee’s homelife and showing care and compassion for them as a person. Employers need to understand that when a salary leaves their business account it is more than just a number: in the hands of an employee, it covers a child’s place at nursery; enables car maintenance; pays energy and credit card bills; and puts food on the table – funding the day-to-day lives of a family or household.
When it’s considered in these terms, it’s hard to believe that any employer would not want to support their staff financially if they were unable to work through ill-health, injury or disability.
Affordability is the main reason for not financially supporting staff in the long term
Fifty-nine per cent of those employers who do not provide financial support for long-term absent staff, say they cannot afford to do so. However, this is probably because they have concerns about funding staff in full on a case-by case basis but on average, for £300 per employee, group income protection can provide cover for all staff.
Although our research indicates that a quarter of employers aren’t supporting their staff financially during long-term sickness absence, market data indicates that this number could be much higher. So in practice even more employers may be missing a trick by not taking advantage of group income protection insurance so that they don’t have to fund the full costs themselves and know that all employees are treated equally.