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One-Fifth of U.K. Employers Concerned About Employees Living with Chronic Illness

Research commissioned by GRiD finds that 21% of employers are worried about workers living with long-term illnesses like diabetes and multiple sclerosis, stressing the importance of retaining employees and facilitating their continued employment.

By Maggie Mancini

A fifth (21%) of employers say they are concerned about employees living with long-term chronic illnesses like diabetes, certain types of cancers, and multiple sclerosis, according to research commissioned by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector. In line with current government focus, GRiD stresses the importance of retaining employees and facilitating their continued employment to improve the U.K.’s productivity but also because, crucially, it is good for their employer and the individual too.  

As of July 2023, 2.6 million of the 8.78 million economically inactive people in the U.K. stated long-term sickness as the reason, according to the Office for National Statistics.  

It is widely recognised that good work is good for people. It can provide a social environment, a salary, contribute to a sense of self-worth, and provide satisfaction: all helping an individual’s well-being. The opposite can also be true that when someone’s ability to remain in a stimulating work situation and the ability to support themselves financially is removed, the individual’s mental and physical health can deteriorate. 

There are a number of ways for employers to consider if their support serves their employees and their organisation. 

As well as offering preventative support, employee benefits should help employees back into work when they have had time off ill. Access to fast-track vocational rehab, talking therapies, virtual GP, second medical opinion services, and health apps can all be vital in helping an employee return to work. Such support can also help employees feel part of the team and cared for. 

Once they have returned, support is also needed to help staff stay at work. This may involve helping them manage symptoms, and might include reasonable adjustments, flexibility, or other more specialised interventions to enable them to continue working. 

Support should also be available for HR teams and line managers who have staff with chronic conditions and can include HR and legal helplines and help with mediation. 

Employee benefits such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness – collectively known as group risk benefits – offer a powerful solution that encompasses all such support. 

Tags: EMEA January 2024, EMEA News

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