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Employers leaving employees exposed to cost-of-living crisis

New research from Zellis, the HR and payroll specialists, shows that businesses are falling behind in their responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their employees during the cost-of-living crisis.

New research* shows that businesses are falling behind in their responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their employees during the cost-of-living crisis. With living costs increasing to record levels, nearly half (45%) of employees say that money worries are affecting them at work yet just 12% say their employer is very effective at supporting their financial wellbeing.

The research shows that the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and Ireland is causing anxiety amongst employees, with 73% now more worried about their finances than they were prior to the pandemic.  This number rises to 80% of those with lower numeracy (an assessment of the ability to understand and use maths in daily life), and 81% of those with a diagnosed mental health condition. This shows that employers must take active steps to protect their most vulnerable employees from further avoidable anxiety around their finances.

Worries over navigating the cost-of-living crisis are also being compounded by uncertainty over the accuracy and reliability of pay, with 38% of employees admitting that they are not fully confident that they understand their payslips, or could spot an error.

Almost half of respondents (49%) reported that payroll errors, such as being paid late or the incorrect amount, would have a negative impact on their mental health. A additional 36% say checking their payslip makes them feel uneasy and worried about their finance, with a quarter (24%) saying this is because they really don’t understand it.

“This research sends a clear message to employers: you must do more to support your people through this crisis,” said Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer at Zellis. “As the cost-of-living continues to hit workers hard, employers must do everything they can to ease anxiety about pay and bridge the numeracy gap to ensure employees are making the best money decisions. This means helping employees to understand their payslips, ensuring financial information is clear and concise, and making employees feel comfortable about raising concerns or questions about pay.”

With new increases in how much national insurance UK employees pay, and a corrective relief measure for some coming in July, having confidence that you are getting taxed effectively has never been more important. Unfortunately, nearly half (48%) of respondents admit that they wouldn’t be able to identify an error in their tax code. This highlights a worrying potential mental health timebomb, as more than half (51%) claim that a mistake in their pay would lead to stress and anxiety and half say it would lead to financial difficulties, such as not being able to pay rent.

“At a time when so much is out of employees control when it comes to their money, its clear that employers need to do more to help their people overcome the challenges of a lack of numeracy and financial stress, but it is also on them to ensure that their payroll is accurate and timely,” said Gethin Nadin. “This research shows the implications of simple payroll mistake on employees can be incredibly serious, and these errors are significantly magnified during this time of uncertainty.”

*Zellis commissioned this comprehensive independent research amongst employees, conducting 2,010 interviews with employees across the UK and Ireland at a non-management level.

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