• One in four employers (25%) do not communicate sickness provision to staff

• 5% said they offered no provision but that staff might not know this

A significant number of UK employers routinely keep important details of their benefits package under wraps from staff according to new research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade organisation for the Group Risk industry.

Alongside meeting contractual obligations and ensuring business continuity, recruiting and motivating employees is seen as the prime reason for implementing a benefits package. So it’s perhaps surprising that recent GRiD research among 500 UK employers reveals as many as one in four are not open about their sickness provision.

When asked to elaborate, eight per cent of businesses questioned had a policy in place but preferred to maintain secrecy about the details, 12% said they treated each case on its own merits and, worryingly, 5% said they had no provision at all – but that staff might not be aware of this.

Whereas pensions and private medical insurance feature prominently in job specs, sickness provision like cover under a Group Income Protection (GIP) policy often falls under the radar as it’s taboo for employees to raise the subject of sick leave – particularly during the recruitment process. In addition, from the employers’ perspective, sometimes benefits like GIP are put in place primarily to support business continuity so employers may not see the reason for communicating on this issue.
However, it is likely that a fear that absence rates would soar if details of a generous sickness policy were divulged is the key reason for an employer to withhold this information. There is, in fact, no evidence to suggest any such link but this concern still makes employers reluctant to communicate the true value of their benefits package.

Katharine Moxham from GRiD explains: “Far from encouraging absence, the whole premise of a modern Group Income Protection (GIP) policy is on stepping in early to minimise absence and provide the support needed to get employees back to work in a timely manner. It’s for this reason that GIP is increasingly seen as a tool to enable employers to meet contractual obligations to rehabilitate employees with cover for absence seen as a bolt on benefit. But best results are achieved where there’s an open and trusting partnership between an employer and their workforce.
“By keeping details of benefits such as GIP under wraps, employers are missing a powerful opportunity to motivate personnel and foster self reliance. As best practice, employers should provide employees with information on company policy in the event of employee absence. We would also recommend communicating the existence of the rehabilitation support that comes with most GIP insurance policies. “ she continues.

“I take great solace from the fact that GRiD employer research also reveals that 14% of employers now issue a Total Reward Statement – a document summarising the value of all benefits, tangible or otherwise – to boost team morale. Additionally, employers who have Group Risk benefits in place cite employee demand, improvements in morale and productivity and getting staff back to work quicker as reasons for doing so. Proof positive that open communication is the best policy.” Katharine concludes.