According to new research by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, a quarter of employers are not financially supporting staff when they are long-term absent from work.

A new study finds that around one in four employers do not support staff who are off sick from work for an extended period of time.

Long-term absences are normally classed as a period of continuous absence which lasts for longer than four weeks.

When asked why they are failing to do so, close to three in five businesses (59 per cent) stated they cannot afford to provide support for employees.

However, the research warns that questions surrounding entitlement to financial support will come up earlier than previously.

The Employment Rights Regulations 2018 means that all staff now need to be told on day one of employment or before, what their entitlement to sick pay is, meaning that employers who only offer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or other basic provision will be exposed.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for the GRiD, stated:

By supporting staff financially when absent long-term, an employer is recognising that the individual is a person first and an employee second.

That individual will have out-of-work practical, emotional and financial responsibilities which can quickly mount up when they are unable to work through illness, injury or disability.

Providing financial security for staff is not simply about the payment in itself but it’s about demonstrating an understanding of an employee’s home life and showing care and compassion for them as a person.

Acas advises that an absence policy should be put into place to clarify key terms including how employees should report absences, when the employee needs to get a fit note, when return to work discussions will be held and with who and, importantly, how much the employee will be paid and for how long.

The majority of employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay of £96.35 a week though many companies choose to supplement this pay with a sick pay scheme.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, concluded by stating offering more than SSP could make employers more attractive in the war for talent:

Employers really need to think about whether they want to be the type of organisation that does or doesn’t help their employees financially when they are absent over the long term.

It’s not just a case of doing what’s right for existing staff but demonstrating how employees are valued is important in attracting future talent too.


* The research was undertaken by Opinium during January 2021 among 505 HR decision makers at UK businesses.