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Employees at large organisations take three times as many sick days as staff at micro firms

Press release 3 July 2018.

Research* from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for the group risk protection sector, shows that employers with over 250 employees are more likely to have a significant absence issue among staff.

According to HR decision makers:

  • Companies with over 250 employees have the highest absence rates - averaging 7.5 days per year.
  • Micro businesses with between 1-9 staff only see their staff take an average of 2.8 days absence per year.

Five per cent of HR decision makers also admitted to not recording or monitoring absence at all, although this is more prevalent amongst SMEs (6%) than those with over 250 employees (1%). This  equates to nearly 300,000** businesses across the UK with no way of knowing how often staff are off sick, whether they have a legitimate reason for being off work or whether specific individuals take more sick leave than others.

Furthermore, 55% of large businesses believe they have a higher sickness absence rate than their industry average, with 25% of these putting this down to ineffective absence management. This begs the question why they aren’t doing more to prevent it.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, believes that one issue to explore is that many organisations may not know that support for employers, line managers and employees exists at no extra cost via group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness protection benefits). She said: “Employers that get the most from their group risk products don’t simply rely on them for an insurance payment, but use the inbuilt services to help keep people at work and also to facilitate a quick return to work – even in cases where no claim is made.”

Day one intervention

GRiD also stresses that some group risk products offer ‘day one intervention’ meaning that employers get help to manage workplace absence and employees are supported from the first day they are off work.

GRiD also points out that, in many cases, absence issues are not clear-cut for an employer: a combination of issues can cause a member of staff to be off work, and each issue may require a slightly different type of help. Musculoskeletal conditions may benefit from fast access to physiotherapy. Other absentees may need a second medical opinion. Employees suffering from stress or mental health problems may benefit from fast-tracked access to talking therapies or from utilising an Employee Assistance Programme, as would someone struggling with relationship problems, addiction, childcare or eldercare responsibilities. All of this support can be made available within group risk benefits.

Moxham continued: “No single organisation can expect to be an expert on every one of the issues its staff faces but, via the right group risk product, they can provide access to help, which can enable people to stay at or return to work, thus earning a salary and retaining a sense of normality.

“There are two sorts of communication strategies required here: the first is to make sure all staff know that support is available to help them stay in or get back to work. The second, which is often overlooked, is about how line managers can signpost their staff better to support and help the Board improve absence reporting and management.

“Keeping tabs on every single member of staff at a larger firm is by no means an easy feat – particularly for companies whose staff travel between or work in multiple locations. However, many of these companies may well already have group risk products in place whereby they can access support for individuals and the organisation as a whole, without requiring any additional expertise or spend.

“Where an organisation currently doesn’t buy in to group risk, we would certainly encourage them to consider it as, by offering such products to staff, management will benefit from an absence solution too.”

  • Ends -

*The research was undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Group Risk Development (GRiD), amongst 500 HR decision makers in 500 UK businesses, including 100 in companies with more than 250 employees, during November 2017.

The GRiD Research was sponsored by Aviva, Canada Life, The Chartered Insurance Institute, Ellipse, Generali Global, Gen Re, JLT, Kerr Henderson, Legal & General, Medical Expenses Consulting (UK) Ltd, Munich Re, Punter Southall Health & Protection, Quantum Advisory, SCOR, Self Assured Ltd, Swiss Re, Unum, Wingate Benefit Solutions, Xafinity Consulting and Zurich Corporate Risk.

**5% (from GRiD research) x 5.7m private businesses (from research below) = 285,000 =  rounded = 300k

For further information please contact:

Sharon Mason 
SMUK Marketing and PR 
Mob: 07747 611773
Land: 01252 843350

Katharine Moxham
Spokesperson for GRiD
Mob: 07887 512508

Notes for editors

About GRiD

Group Risk Development (GRiD) is the industry body for the group risk protection sector, promoting the value to UK businesses of providing financial protection for their staff, enhancing their wellbeing and improving employee engagement. Our membership includes insurers, reinsurers and intermediaries who have a collective wealth of experience built over years of operating in the group risk protection market. Under the chairmanship of Steve Bridger (MD Group Protection, Corporate, Aviva UK Life) GRiD aims to promote group risk through a collective voice to Government, policymakers, stakeholders and employers.

GRiD works with government departments and regulators involved in legislation and regulation affecting group risk benefits, and with other organisations involved in the benefits and financial protection arenas. GRiD also seeks to enhance the industry's standing by encouraging best practice and by participating in industry-wide initiatives such as the professional qualification in group risk managed jointly with the Chartered Insurance Institute.

GRiD’s media activity aims to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products and their benefits for employers and employees.

GRiD's dedicated spokesperson, Katharine Moxham, provides expert media comment on a full range of group risk issues.

Follow Katharine Moxham on Twitter @KMoxham

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