Employers and employees experience considerable disruption during long-term sickness. For absent employees it can be a stressful and worrying time. For their colleagues, workloads may be stretched by taking on extra tasks, affecting morale. For employers, particularly SMEs, losing valuable staff can affect productivity levels and wasted time can be spent seeking temporaryreplacements.
The abolition of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Percentage Threshold Scheme in 2014, stopping employers recovering SSP from the government, increased the burden on the employer. The expected reduction in longer term state benefits and the increasingly rigorous qualification process further diminishes the possibility of relying on the State during sickness absence.
Now seems like a good time for all companies, especially SMEs, to insure against the losses caused by long-term sickness absence.
Benefits to employees – peace of mind
First and foremost GIP is about protecting employees against one of the the main impacts of long-term sickness, loss of income. Financialstrain is often an added and stressful symptom of long-term illness.
Group Income Protection (GIP) can be invaluable in the provision of.long-term income: traditionally the benefit is paid from a set date after absence commenced until recovery or retirement. Importantly the employee remains in employment, so when they reach retirement, they can then receive the full pension to which they have continued to contribute. Any entitlement to other employee benefits is also protected.
The benefits are not only financial. Having the help and guidance of an experienced rehabilitation specialist can really make a difference to employees who have been away from the workplace for lengthy periods. Their support can remove the feelings of isolation and ease the return to work process, with the reassurance that any return to work plans will be prepared with full agreement from their General Practitioners.
Benefits to employers
The burden of sick pay can go far beyond financial costs for employers. In SMEs, where workplace relationships are often close, employers will be keen to do the best for their staff – yet this can be a difficult process to get right. Having GIP in place moves some of the responsibility of providing for an employee with a long-term illness to the insurer.
Engaging with rehabilitation services can successfully de-personalise the return to work, helping employers toensure the most appropriate and suitable outcome for all involved. Additionally, this can save on the cost of a diminished workforce or having to recruit a new staff member requiring training.
In some cases, having GIP in place could avoid long-term sickness altogether, removing the need to make statutory sick payments. Along-term absence from work may be preventable by using aninsurer embedded Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), often provided as part of a GIP policy. EAPs are a good way to support and maintain the health of employees, with many services that help to identify and resolve personal concerns that may affect job performance.
These benefits are often just part of the GIP offering. Others may include specialist second medical opinion services or help in sourcing private medical treatment. The GIP “package” can give SMEs a really boost in the recruitment and retention of the best staff.
Above and beyond protection
GIP is first and foremost a concrete layer of protection, able to withstand changes in legislation leaving state benefits falling short. This peace of mind for employees and employers cannot be understated. For SMEs in particular, the chance to boost protection against long-term illness may prove invaluable to small teams stretched by large workloads.
The short-term benefits of increased morale coupled with long-term betterment of health and productivity makes this a more than worthwhile investment.