Privacy fears are holding UK employees back from accessing group protection plans due to concerns their employer will find out too much about their health or private life.
Research from Legal & General shows 20 per cent of people who say group protection is not relevant to their wellness are concerned about the privacy ramifications of claiming.
The study of UK employees with access to group protection from their employer finds that privacy concerns are one of the top barriers to usage of group protection and added value services, including income protection, critical illness cover and employee assistance programmes.
Meanwhile 36 per cent of employees say they do not find their group protection policies relevant to their health, wealth and happiness; and of these, 20 per cent cite concerns that their employer may get to know too much about their health or private life.
Looking closer at employee assistance programmes (EAPs) the study found that among all group protection benefits, it rates the highest (34 per cent) among all employees in terms of lack of relevance to their, or their family’s wellbeing.
The research found 19 per cent of employees who feel it’s not relevant cite privacy concerns as a barrier to usage, rising to 23 per cent among women.
A further 24 per cent say “it just doesn’t interest them” while 18 per cent claim they are never off sick so don’t require it, and 18 per cent don’t think their employer adequately communicates the relevance of the benefits.
On income protection and critical illness cover, the study found 25 per cent of employees don’t think their income protection is relevant to their wellbeing, with 15 per cent citing privacy concerns, and a further 15% claiming their employer employer adequately communicates the relevance of the benefits.
Almost a third (30%) of employees don’t think their critical illness policy is relevant to their health, wealth and happiness, with 17% of these citing privacy concerns.
The survey also picked up on the fact that many employees are simply overwhelmed by wider corporate ‘noise’.
Almost one in five of those that say they don’t find their critical illness policy relevant to their health, wealth and happiness, said it was because they do not read all the company information, and there’s too much to take in, while 17 per cent said the same for income protection and 14% also cite this as a reason for not feeling the EAP product is relevant to their wellbeing.
Legal & General distribution director – group protection Colin Fitzgerald says.“Employers are investing in their employee benefits with what they believe is the best interests of employees at heart.
“It is worrying to find that so many employees don’t connect the relevance of these benefits to their wellbeing. More stark a finding is that privacy concerns are a barrier to many employees’ usage of certain benefits.
“The reality is that employers offer these products to help their people be well, get better and be supported. And usage will never reflect badly on the employee. This is where a strong culture of trust in the workplace is so important. The privacy concerns might be more a reflection on employer trust than on the products themselves.
“That said, there’s a strong message here for providers and intermediaries. The issue we find is in the majority of workplaces, benefits are still considered on a standalone product basis; as an insurance solution when things go wrong. We need to work together as an industry to help employers better integrate benefit and wellbeing agendas, with an emphasis on prevention. More relevant and targeted communication has a strong part to play here.”