General Insurance Article - 23% of employees could not support family if long-term sick

A quarter of employees (23%) would not be able to provide for their family if they were off sick for six months or more, new research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry, has found.

 A further quarter (23%) would be able to get by, but would have to rely purely on savings, while one in eight (13%) would have to cut back on heating and gas. In addition, a third (31%) could only spend on essentials such as food, drink, heating and gas. 
 Given that average household spending is £517 a week, and savings are at just £20.80[1] a month, this highlights the importance of protecting income against long-term absence from work rather than relying on cutting back on daily spending.
 When it comes to managing debt, almost a quarter (22%) admitted they would have to sell some of their belongings and valuables to keep up appearances. A further 18% would borrow money from other family members to cover any losses but one in eight (12%) said they would not be honest with their partner about how much debt they were in and one in seven (14%) would hide bank statements and correspondence, showing the potential for relationship problems to emerge as a result.
 When it comes to seeking support from employers, just one in seven (14%) said they would go to their employer for help, highlighting perhaps that employers have not yet embraced the unique position they are in to facilitate financial education, together with affordable and accessible protection cover for their staff.
 Encouragingly, one in eight (12%) employers said they are more likely to increase their benefit spend now, as the UK emerges from recession. In addition, a third (33%) said they would be likely to use the new Fit for Work Service to help staff with a health condition stay at or return to work.
 A third of employers questioned have Group Life Assurance and Group Income Protection in their benefits package for all staff (36% and 31% respectively), while 29% offer Group Critical Illness benefit to all staff.
 Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), said:
 “Pushing debt under the carpet and choosing to rely purely on savings and cutting back on spending to survive when off work sick is a risky game, and shows just how much of a difference income protection could make to these individuals. The priority for both employers and employees when facing long-term sick leave is to get the staff member back to work sooner rather than later, not least to avoid the development of a secondary illness such as anxiety or depression whilst away from the office.
 "It is clear from these results that employers want the best for their staff. Employees who have coverage from income protection, which is usually part of a wider supportive benefits package provided by their workplace, will be in a far more robust position in the long-term.”

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