Third Of Employers Failing To Fully Support Their Long-Term Absent Employees

One in three employers do not provide support to help long-term absent employees return to work, new research has found.

According to the study by Opinium on behalf of GRiD Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for the group risk protection sector, 31% of employers do not make early intervention services available to help staff who have been absent for six months or more return to work. Almost the same number of employers again (32%) don’t have any financial support in place for staff if they are absent long term.

More than half of employers believe they cannot afford intervention services

When it comes to the reasons why almost a third of employers do not offer return-to-work intervention services, 52% said they cannot afford to, while 32% believe it is not their responsibility.

It’s a similar story why many employers do not offer financial support, with over half (58%) saying they can’t afford to do so and a third (30%) claiming it is not their responsibility.

Of the employers that do provide early interventions to help long-term absent employees return to work, 50% offer this for all staff (40% through insurance and 10% through self-funding).

Of those employers who do offer return-to-work interventions, the most common types are:

  • Emotional support, such as counselling (46%)
  • Graded return-to-work plans (43%)
  • Practical support such as access to a rehabilitation specialist (39%)
  • Line manager training (34%)
  • Access to medical specialists such as oncologists (31%)
  • Access to a second medical opinion (28%)
  • Pay for treatment (27%)
  • Physio (24%)

Speaking about the findings of the research, Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Employees who are offered support at difficult times in their lives – be that financial, physical, emotional or social – not only are more valued, they also feel more valued and are therefore more likely to return to work more quickly. Not offering support, and/or removing income sources is by no means a motivator to get staff back at their desk. Of course no employer should be advocating presenteeism where employees return to work before they are truly ready, but offering support to help staff return to work when they can isn’t just a win for the business, it is also greatly valued by staff.”

A wealth of support is available

Fortunately, for both employers and employees, there is a wealth of support available. Group Risk products, including Group Income ProtectionGroup Critical Illness and Death In Service, all usually provide value-add services, as well as financial security.

So in addition to being safeguarded against the financial impact of long-term absence, employees can also benefit from services such as rehabilitation expertise, fast access to counselling and physiotherapy, and case-specific vocational support.

In Summary

As with most things, prevention is better than cure, and this certainly applies to the wellbeing of employees. The longer a member of staff is absent from work, the greater the likelihood they will not return. This leaves employers facing disruption for which they are unable to plan, as well as additional recruitment and training costs.

In the current climate and with so much uncertainty still ahead, employers should be reviewing their benefits offerings and questioning whether they are still 100% relevant. If they’re not, changes need to be made to support both employees and the long-term success of the overall business.