Around half of employers believe that staff should be on an auto-enrolment system for protection schemes in the workplace. A survey conducted with employers all across the UK discovered that almost half of all employers believe that an auto-enrolment scheme should be introduced for long term sickness absence protection.
Over 1,000 employees and 500 employers took part in the study, and it was revealed that 43% of managers feel workers should be automatically added to a financial protection system that covers them in the event of long term sickness absence. Almost a fifth are already considering opting for some form of group income protection scheme for their employees.
The research also raised concerns over the level of rehabilitation support amongst varying organisations, as well as the very little knowledge in regard to an employee’s state support and how it changes when they’re off sick. As little as one in five employers believe that they have the capacity to offer some form of rehabilitation support for those coming back from long term illness. The same number of employers believe that they are lacking both the resources and expertise required to get people back into the workplace efficiently and effectively.
Changes to Benefits
Almost two thirds of the surveyed employers were unsure of how much employees get from benefits through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) during sickness absence. Three quarters did not realise that those on sickness absence could be placed in the Work Related Activity Group under new assessments and could end up having their ESA stopped after 12 months if judged to be fit for work. At present the Government are reassessing those on incapacity benefits using the work capability assessment to evaluate if they should be moved onto the new ESA benefits.
If found fit to work, the person will be moved onto Job Seeker’s Allowance, whilst those capable of some work will move into the Work Related Activity Group. Only 11% of employers have reviewed their sick pay arrangements following on from the welfare reform changes that have taken place. A quarter of the employers were concerned about these changes, believing that some workers may be forced back into work before they are well enough to come back.
Overall the level of employers knowledge around state benefits relating to illness was quite concerning. The level of interest shown in auto-enrolment for financial protection schemes for employees who are unable to return to work as a result of long term illness was encouraging.
Gareth writes on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare who offer a range of healthcare solutions for businesses including group medical insurance and corporate healthcare.