Group Risk: Managing & Preventing Sickness Absence

In July 2019, the UK Government published a consultation paper: Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss. It outlined, among other things, how the government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss.

In response to the publication of this consultation, the industry body for the group risk sector, GRiD, set up the Workplace Public Policy Committee (WPPC), with the aim of promoting workplace health and wellbeing matters to government.

The government is now expected to publish a green paper, containing possible courses of action in terms of policy and legislation, before the end of this year.

Group risk industry disappointed with government’s original consultation

However, many in the group risk sector have outlined how the industry’s role in helping to manage sickness absence and employee return-to-work support was not recognised as part of the original consultation.

Indeed, Nick Homer, head of market management, corporate risk at Zurich, and a member of the WPPC and the GRiD steering committee, told Cover magazine: “The GRiD Workplace Public Policy Committee has had some engagement with DWP and we do still currently expect the response to the ‘Health is everyone’s business’ consultation to be published this year.

“We’re hopeful that the government will widen their scope to consider good workplace health related practices more broadly, including the role of insurance. Insurance products play an important role in providing employers – and employees – with access to valuable support services, often enabling smaller employers to access services that they would not otherwise be able to, easily or economically. 

“Group income protection insurance, in particular, helps employers to address the challenges of workplace ill-health and provides vital rehabilitation support that aids employee recovery and supports their return to work.”

How group risk products can help with ill health-related workplace absence

Group risk products are mutually beneficial to both employer and employee.

For employers, group risk products help spread the risk and financial costs associated with death in service benefits, long term sick pay and critical illness cover. 

For employees, when provided as part of a benefits package, group risk products provide financial security and peace of mind that they might not otherwise be able to afford or access themselves.

  • Group Income Protection — Provides a continuous income for an employee when they are unable to work due to an illness, injury or disability.
  • Group Critical Illness — Pays a tax-free lump sum to an employee if they are diagnosed with a serious medical condition (critical illness).
  • Death In Service — Pays a tax-free lump sum upon an employee’s death. This is usually calculated as a multiple of the employee’s salary and is paid to the deceased’s family or qualifying beneficiary.

In addition to the benefits outlined above, group risk products also help organisations attract and retain the best talent, by showing that they are an employer that cares about its staff. Right now, with the Covid-19 pandemic still posing a threat and causing unprecedented uncertainty, employers need to ensure they are supporting their employees in every way possible. Group risk benefits are a step in the right direction.

Every day we hear stories about the positive impact of employee benefits on both employee and employer wellbeing. There has never been a more important time to highlight the benefits of these policies to clients. Hopefully, we will see a widening of scope in the upcoming green paper.