23% of employers lack support for seriously ill staff

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For employers and intermediaries only

Employees have poor understanding of what they’re offered in practice, research from GRiD suggests.

A quarter (23%) of UK businesses do not offer any form of emotional or practical support to employees if they are diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease, according to research revealed by industry body GRiD.

Of those who do offer support, the most prevalent types of provision are a phased return to work plan (43%) and emotional support, such as counselling (42%). Other common forms of support offered include practical support, such as access to rehabilitation (35%), line manager training (28%), access to medical specialists such as oncologists (27%), second medical opinions (23%), paid-for for treatment (21%) and physiotherapy (17%)

However, when asked about what support they believe their employer might offer them should they be absent through ill health, of those employees who thought they would have support over and above statutory sick pay, only 7% thought they'd be given access to counselling and just 3% thought their employer would offer physio - suggesting there is a gap in employee understanding.  

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said:"Serious and critical illnesses are often unforeseen, and that can make them difficult to prepare for. But, unfortunately, they're not uncommon, so it's important that employers consider this aspect when putting together their health and wellbeing programmes."

According to British Heart Foundation, around 7.4 million people are living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK, 1.4 million alive today have survived a heart attack and over 900,000 people in the UK are living with heart failure. Often these individuals require long-term support following diagnosis and treatment.

GRiD said the needs of those with serious illnesses are"complex and multi-layered", with one medical issue often leading on to other secondary problems, mental health concerns and financial worries.

Moxham added:"When employers are looking at how to support their staff best, it's important to offer a wide range of help. Trying to offer support on a standalone basis for the changing needs of an individual is not only expensive but it's also nigh on impossible to cover every eventuality.

"The good news is that such support is often readily available, embedded within the products for employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits, so employers need to investigate these when looking to support their workforce."

Some of these benefits may well be included within existing health and wellbeing benefits that employers already have in place, so employers should review what they have and getting communication right is crucial, said GRiD.

Moxham concluded:"Our research shows a disconnect between what benefits and support employers offer, and what employees believe they're offered. It's vital that employers let staff know what support is available, particularly for serious illnesses, so it's front of mind when it's needed." 


This article was written by Adam Saville from Cover Magazine and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.