New legislation comes into force today that means employers now have to tell their staff – on day one of employment or before – about their entitlement to sick pay.
Health insurance and protection industry experts say the new rules will mean companies stand to benefit as they pay closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their workers – which should result in a drop in absence rates, an increase in productivity and an improved work-life balance for staff.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, the trade body for the group protecton industry, said she believes that the new legislation will encourage employers to beef up their employee benefits offering to make sure it is attractive to staff – and pays dividends for their bottom line too.
Moxham also said that with the current Covid-19 pandemic, “a spotlight has already been shone” on how employers support those that are absent. She said that while some employers will only offer the bare minimum Statutory Sick Pay, others will go much further, extending the time they pay absent staff, and extending the amount they pay.
According to Moxham, those employers that want to demonstrate how much they care for their staff offer much fuller support that goes beyond pay, such as access to health and wellbeing specialists, early intervention and rehabilitation, bereavement counselling and specialist therapies.
Moxham said that many employers talk about valuing their most important asset and communicating how staff are looked after when absent is a “clear demonstration” of just how much they are valued in practice.
She said: “Having to tell staff exactly how they’re looked after if absent means there’s now nowhere to hide for those that do the bare minimum.
“Telling staff about their benefits on day one is all about the feel-good factor, and that will be sorely missing for employers that don’t support their staff particularly well.”
Moxham said that many employees often assume that their employer will look after them if they are unable to work through sickness or injury but many only find out they are not so well supported once they are absent.
She said the new rules mean that from today, workers should know from day one exactly what to expect from their employer.
She said: “If companies don’t do much to look after absent staff, they may see staff not staying as long as they had hoped, instead choosing to work for an employer that values them more highly. Many companies offer enhanced support, and they’ll be the winners.”
The introduction of the new legislation is “a very positive move”, she added.
She said: “A big battle we have in the world of employee benefits is employers and employees not always fully understanding the detail of the benefits they offer. Making support for absence transparent from day one means employers have to be clear themselves about what they offer, and employees will be able to understand it too.”