Sickness Absence Is Severely Impacting UK SMEs But Uptake Of Protection Remains Low

In Business, Group Income Protection, Protection by Tom Pullinger

UK SMES are being severely impacted by sickness absence, a new study has found, yet a huge number are still overlooking financial products that could benefit both them and their employees.

According to the survey from benefits provider Unum, 44% of UK SMEs said they have had at least one employee absent for four weeks or more in the last twelve months. Furthermore, when asked about the impact on the future success of the business if a key employee was absent long-term (six months or more), 44% said it would be ‘significant’, while 24% said it would be ‘critical’.

Interestingly, more than half of SMEs quizzed (55%) said they would do everything they could to help a member of staff return to work after a period of sickness. However, despite the business impact of long-term absence and the apparent desire of employers to help their staff return to work, separate research shows SMEs could be doing more.

Employers could do more…

The other recent study by Unum and the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) revealed the uptake of core protection benefits is very low among SMEs.

According to the Unum and BCC research, just 8% of UK SMEs offer their employees income protection – a core product designed to help employers and employees cope with sickness absence by providing financial assistance and rehabilitation support.

The number of employers offering Life Insurance was a little better, with 22% of SMEs indicating they offer this core benefit to their employees. However, Critical Illness Cover is offered by only 9% of SMEs, and 22% said that they offer nothing at all in the way of financial protection benefits.

Speaking about the findings of the research, Peter O’Donnell, chief executive officer at Unum UK, warned SMEs about the serious impact that illness and long-term sickness absence can have on individuals, their families and businesses of all sizes across every sector.

“Good employers want to support employees when they are unwell as our research shows, and making our services more modern and helping them better understand how products like group income protection can help, is an important place to start,” he added.

More than half of UK businesses say they would do everything they could to aid a member of staff back to work after a period of illness, so how come less than one in 10 have protection benefits in place to help and manage sickness/absence?

Not sure about the benefits of offering group income protection to your employees? Check out this recent post for more information on how this core protection product can benefit both you and your employees – Group Income Protection: Providing Benefits For Both Employers & Employees

Still have questions? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer them.

A highly motivated result’s driven individual with a wealth of experience in the Healthcare & Group Risk market. I have established strong relationships with large multinational clients through excellent interpersonal skills. I have advanced listening, negotiating & influencing skills that allow me succeed in a team based environment. I have comprehensive knowledge of the UK Healthcare & Group Risk market. This knowledge has been obtained through the Chartered Insurance Institute & self study.