Even though the situation has improved slightly compared to last year, stress and mental ill health remain one of the main causes of long-term sickness absence (more than six months) in the UK, according to research from Group Risk Development (GRiD).
In fact, the figures from the trade body for the group risk industry show that 42% of employers cited stress and mental ill health as a major cause of long-term sickness absence.
Furthermore, over a third (36%) said it was one of the main causes of mid-term sickness absence and one in six (17%) said the same for short-term sickness absence.
Nevertheless, these figures are better than last year’s, when almost half (48%) said stress and mental ill health was a major cause of long-term sickness absence; 41% mid-term; and 19% short-term.
In response to this revelation, the GRiD said: “This indicates that strategies introduced by employers to address issues like this amongst their workforce are having an impact.”
However, more still needs to be done by employers to address the issue of stress in the workplace; especially as every employer has a duty of care towards their employees i.e. they must do everything reasonable under the circumstances to keep the employee safe from harm.
The GRiD research also reveals that 13% of employers have introduced employee stress counselling schemes and 7% have trained line managers to spot the warning signs of stress or mental ill health, so that appropriate steps can be taken at an early stage.
‘Never Been More Important’
Over a third of employers (36%) have implemented flexible working, which remains ahead of return to work interviews as the number one initiative for reducing absence and improving attendance.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “With long-term sickness absence costing UK businesses £4.17 billion a year, it has never been more important to provide support early on to tackle absence. The impact stress and mental ill health can have on staff in terms of morale cannot be underestimated, neither can their negative effects on business productivity.
One way that employers can promote wellbeing in the workplace; support their staff; manage sickness absence; and control the costs associated with long-term absence is by offering Group Income Protection as part of their employee benefits packages.
Many people today overestimate the value of Statutory Sick Pay and don’t realise just how much money they would receive from the state if they were unable to work due to sickness.
This reality makes the need for Group Income Protection even more urgent, as employees are currently living and working under an illusion that the state will take care of them should the need arise.
Not only does Group Income Protection provide the employee with a salary should they find themselves in a position where they can no longer work, but it also provides comprehensive claims-management services to employers.
And with Group Income Protection usually costing around 1% of salary roll, the benefits more than outweigh the costs.
Some employers believe the cost of implementing a Group Risk policy is far higher than it actually is. Policies like these not only take away the financial burden but also offer support services to help employees get back to work as quickly as possible. The can also offer help to the employers by giving them access to advice and tools to manage sickness.
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