If an employee becomes sick or injures themselves too severely to work, a Group Income Protection scheme will provide them with a monthly income to supplement their lost earnings while they are recovering.
This company paid benefit comes with a number of really valuable support services to proactively reduce sickness absence as well as providing access to rehabilitation specialists to help ill staff return to work.
- Protects against any illness or injury stopping an employee from working.
- Works with and complements the employers sick pay policy.
- Covers up to 80% of employees’ salaries.
- The company owns and pays for the policy for its staff.
- Usually comes with additional support services to help manage sickness absence more effectively.
- Supports your staff through what could be an emotionally, physically and financially difficult time.
Why Is Group Sickness Insurance Important?
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), illness or injury caused 141.4 million lost working days in the UK in 2018. This equates to around 4.4 days per worker.
While most employees are understandably worried about serious illnesses, it’s actually less critical conditions that most commonly keep staff off work.
The ONS says the top cause of sickness absence in 2018 was “minor illnesses”. These caused 27.2% of absences and consist of coughs, colds, flu, sickness, nausea and diarrhoea. Rounding off the top five causes are:
Both mental health issues and musculoskeletal problems are in the top five causes of workplace sickness absence. These can be long-term conditions requiring weeks or even months off work. This is despite them not being as ‘critical’ as a heart attack or cancer diagnosis.
What About Statutory Sick Pay?
Most employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they’re off work ill for 4 or more consecutive days. You as the employer pay this for up to 28 weeks.
To be eligible for state benefits, a worker must:
- Be earning at least £120 per week
- Be classed as an employee and have done at least some work for the employer.
The standard rate of SSP is £95.85 per week. Clearly, this is only a minimal figure that would see most staff struggle financially.
Supplementing Employees’ Statutory Sick Pay
Employers who want to further support staff will often supplement state benefits with some form of occupational sick pay. This might be a set number of days, weeks or months at full pay.
A Group Income Protection scheme goes a step further than this, kicking in after the end of occupational sick pay to support those off work in the longer term.
Can Employees Still Claim ESA?
In most cases the answer is yes. Your staff can receive an Income Protection payout from their group scheme and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is one of the main government incapacity benefits.
This is because ESA is usually contributions-based rather than income-based. This means it’s based on your National Insurance contributions record over time rather than your earning capacity.
However, in some cases ‘old-style’ ESA can be income-based. If there is any doubt about which one you qualify for and whether it will impact your claim, clarify this with your local Job Centre Plus or the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Benefits Of A Group Income Protection Scheme
Offering this cover provides staff with the clear signal that you value them and are there to support them when they need it most.
Furthermore, an impressive benefits package can:
- Attract new employees
- Improve employee retention and engagement
- Reduce stress
- Manage sickness absence.
Helping Reduce Sickness Absence
With Group Income Protection policies, there’s a particular focus on managing sickness absence before they become claims. As such, early intervention programmes and rehabilitation services work alongside the policy to provide tangible benefits. This might include:
The support services and employee assistance program aim to get workers back on their feet and return to work faster than would be the case otherwise, all for free with the policy. This can help reduce financial strain on both staff and the business by reducing sickness absence.
Most importantly, staff can use these benefits before it becomes necessary to make a formal claim, potentially preventing their illness from escalating to the point they end up absent from work.
Benefits For Employees
UK employees are notably under-protected. Just over 1 in 10 UK workers have Income Protection according to our Individual Protection Survey. Moreover, when asked why this was the case, nearly 1 in 5 people surveyed said they’d never heard of it.
Yet it’s a valued benefit, offering income security no matter what the future throws at you. Having an employer introduce and pay for it could therefore be a significant weight off employees’ minds.
Furthermore, Group Income Protection means that staff don’t need to rely solely on minimal SSP should they be off work long-term. This results in better financial outcomes for your staff.