Four employers in five exceed statutory obligations for sick staff

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More than four-fifths (81%) of employers provide sick pay above the statutory entitlement, according to research published by Unum and Personnel Today.

Further, two-thirds of organisations said that they continue to pay their employees for up to one year, even when statutory requirements have ended. Just 12% support their staff for longer than that.

The research, conducted among HR professionals across UK businesses, also found that almost nine employees in 10 (88%) rate providing sick pay above statutory entitlement as fairly or very important.

If an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury, their employer is currently required to pay statutory sick pay of £81.60 per week for the first six months. If an employee is still unable to work after six months, they move onto employment and support allowance of at least £4,901 per year, unless they work for the 40% of companies that were found to supplement this.

The research also revealed that despite the recession, employers are continuing to provide the following benefits:

  • 79% offer a death-in-service benefit or life insurance;
  • 61% provide private medical insurance;
  • 55% operate bonus schemes;
  • 34% offer a car allowance; and
  • 70% provide childcare vouchers.

More than one-third (36%) say that they offer as many employee benefits as they can, with half (49%) reviewing employee benefits packages annually and a further 20% reviewing packages more frequently.

Jack McGarry, chief executive of financial protection insurer Unum UK, said: “As a responsible employer, you want to ensure you’re protecting your staff – and the research shows that the majority of employers take their duty of care seriously.”

Three-quarters of employers provide a death-in-service benefit or life assurance to their employees, but McGarry added that employees are three times more likely to be unable to work due to illness or injury than to die during their working lives. Despite this, only 10% of employees are covered by income protection, which pays up to 80% of a sick employee’s salary until they return to work or retire.

“Rebalancing your benefits to include a basic policy, such as a foundation level of income protection cover, could mean a higher number of staff are covered at no additional cost to you,” said McGarry.

The research was conducted in November 2011 among more than 220 HR professionals by Reed Business Insight.

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