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Third of employers not helping long-term absent employees return to work

Person with a board over their face showing an unhappy face

A third of employers (31 per cent) do not make any early  interventions to help staff return  to work in the event that they’re absent for longer than six months owing to ill health, disability or injury.

Similarly, thirty-two per cent of employers don’t have any financial support in place for staff if they are absent for half a year or more.

That’s according to research among 500 employers carried out by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector.

Of those employers that do not offer returntowork interventions for employees, over half (52 per cent) said they can’t afford it and a third (32 per cent) believe that it is not their responsibility. 

Similar reasons were cited when employers were questioned about why they don’t offer financial support. Over half (58 per cent) of those employers who don’t offer financial support, claim they can’t afford to do so and a third (30 per cent) believe it is not their responsibility. 

Of the employers who do offer early interventions to support a return to work for long-term absent employees, 50 per cent provide this for all staff (40% via insurance and 10% by self-funding).

Of those employers who do offer returntowork interventions, the most common types are:

  • Emotional support, such as counselling (46%)
  • Graded returntowork plans (43%)
  • Practical support such as access to a rehabilitation specialist (39%)
  • Line manager training (34%)
  • Access to medical specialists such as oncologists (31%)
  • Access to a second medical opinion (28%)
  • We pay for treatment (27%)
  • Physio (24%)

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD) said: “Employees who are offered support at difficult times in their lives – be that financial, physical, emotional or social – not only are more valued, they also feel more valued and are therefore more likely to return to work more quickly. Not offering support, and/or removing income sources is by no means a motivator to get staff back at their desk. Of course no employer should be advocating presenteeism where employees return to work before they are truly ready, but offering support to help staff return to work when they can isn’t just a win for the business, it is also greatly valued by staff.”