General Insurance Article - Legislation means employers must update view on absent staff

New legislation* coming into force on 6 April 2020 means employers now have to tell their staff, on day one of employment or before, what their entitlement to any sick pay is. GRiD predicts this will mean many employers will enhance their offering to make sure it’s attractive.

 With the current Covid-19 pandemic, a spotlight has already been shone on how employers support those that are absent, and the new legislation will be further reason to make any support transparent.

 New recruits have a lot of priorities on their first day, from what their roles and responsibilities are, to where they sit and meeting their new colleagues. The induction welcome pack is a well-trusted route for employers to let new starters know about all the benefits they offer their staff, from pensions to health and wellbeing, holiday entitlement to life assurance. They now also have to let their staff know how they’ll support them if they’re absent.

 Some employers will only offer the bare minimum Statutory Sick Pay. Others will go much further, extending the time they pay absent staff, and extending the amount they pay. Those employers that want to demonstrate how much they care for their staff offer much fuller support that goes beyond pay, such as access to health and wellbeing specialists, early intervention and rehabilitation, bereavement counselling and specialist therapies. GRiD predicts that offering access to such support will increase.

 Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: ‘Many employers talk about valuing their most important asset. Communicating how staff are looked after when absent is a clear demonstration of just how much they’re valued in practice, as a lot of employers have been doing in the current situation.

 ‘Having to tell staff exactly how they’re looked after if absent means there’s now nowhere to hide for those that do the bare minimum. Telling staff about their benefits on day one is all about the feel-good factor, and that will be sorely missing for employers that don’t support their staff particularly well.’

 Many employees often assume that their employer will look after them if they’re unable to work through sickness or injury. Many will only find out they’re not so well supported once they’re absent. They’ll now know from day one exactly what to expect from their employer. If companies don’t do much to look after absent staff, they may see staff not staying as long as they had hoped, instead choosing to work for an employer that values them more highly. Many companies offer enhanced support, and they’ll be the winners.

 Moxham continued, ‘This is a very positive move. A big battle we have in the world of employee benefits is employers and employees not always fully understanding the detail of the benefits they offer. Making support for absence transparent from day one means employers have to be clear themselves about what they offer, and employees will be able to understand it too.’

 * The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378)
 Following the Taylor Review, there are legislative changes under the government’s Good Work Plan coming into force in April 2020. This means that employers must give employees access to a written statement of various particulars of their employment on day one or before and, amongst other things, this now needs to include their entitlement to sick pay.

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