More than a fifth of British businesses say they lack the expertise to to manage sickness absence effectively, with the proportion even higher for smaller employers.
YouGov research published by insurer Zurich conducted among financial decision makers in British companies found 22 per cent say they lack expertise when it comes to managing sickness absence. The research suggests employers could be leaving themselves exposed to losing skilled staff and lost productivity through extended and unmanaged sickness absence, says Zurich.
The research found 29 per cent of financial decision makers working for medium sized businesses with between 50 and 249 employees admitted they don’t feel they have the right skills to manage their employee’s ill health effectively, compared to 14 per cent of those at larger firms and 22 for of small businesses. Employee absence is estimated to cost the UK economy around £18bn per year in terms of lost productivity.
Just 15 per cent of those surveyed provide group income protection for their employees, with larger businesses nearly twice as likely to as medium-sized ones, with 45 per cent and 23 per cent respectively doing so. Just 8 per cent of enterprises with less than 50 employees polled offer this benefit.
Over 40 per cent of employers had no idea what group income protection cost while 21 per cent thought this would equate to over 3 per cent of payroll, roughly three times the actual cost.
Zurich head of market engagement for group risk Nick Homer says: “The findings particularly highlight the vulnerability of smaller businesses and their employees. Group income protection can help businesses operate more effectively by providing both financial support and access to expertise to aid the recovery of employees suffering from an illness or injury.
“We know from experience that absent employees who have access to support via their workplace group income protection arrangement return to work more successfully and quicker than those who don’t, with many having benefitted from specialist support and treatment that they may struggle to access via the NHS.
“As providers, it’s important that we communicate all of the benefits of group income protection policies. This includes the rehabilitation support that we provide which can be vital in helping employers retain valuable staff.”