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Employers in dark over impact of ‘serious issues’ for staff

Bereavement and cancer resulting in unexpected absences

Employers are underestimating the likelihood of a serious issue affecting their staff in the next 12 months, according to research by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.

Despite nearly four in five (78%) HR professionals at larger employers having supported a member of staff at their current workplace through bereavement, their prediction of needing to do the same in the forthcoming 12 months is lower at 65%.

Similarly, three quarters of HRs at larger companies (76%) have dealt with an employee being absent for six months or longer, but the perceived likelihood of doing this again in the next 12 months is just 60%.

The survey shows further gaps in perception versus reality exist when HRs considered dealing with staff with mental health problems; dealing with staff who have been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or stroke; and dealing with the death of an employee.

Figures from the charity Macmillan show that 125,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer every year.

Meanwhile, the charity Mind’s figures show one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year, and government data reveals that 16% of people who died in 2017 were of working age.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said employers need to realise that just because they have dealt with a serious incident with one employee, it does not mean that they are immune from it happening again.

She pointed out that larger organisations, and those with a specific demographic bias, may find themselves repeatedly dealing with a similar scenario for individuals within their workforce.