With recent labour market statistics highlighting that long-term sickness is an increasingly common reason for being out of the labour force, GRiD suggests that group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) will become even more valued by employees during 2023.
The pandemic’s wider impact on health is thought to be an important factor in increased long-term sickness, as are long-term chronic or progressive conditions, musculoskeletal issues and mental illness. GRiD, the group risk protection industry body, believes employees will be more aware than ever of the need for financial support in the event of death, serious illness or accident – for themselves and their household – meaning there will be increased appreciation of group risk benefits in comparison to other employee benefits during the next calendar year.
In addition, as the preventative support available to employees within group risk benefits is becoming more comprehensive and more widely understood, it will be better utilised. This is because employees will be better able to access the types of support that meet their individual needs and address their own specific health concerns.
Another driver of increased employee appreciation is the increase in NHS waiting lists. With untold pressures on the NHS over the winter period, many employees will be waiting for diagnosis or treatment but unable to access support in a timely way. The availability of support within group risk benefits can mean that employees will be financially supported if they do need to wait for treatment and can also access support to prevent their condition from worsening, or to manage symptoms during the wait.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “It’s unfortunate that the need for of our benefits tends to correlate with the periods when employees are most struggling in their lives. However, as more people become aware of the benefits of group risk and the trend continues for increasing numbers of companies to take up employer-sponsored protection, we are able to do more to support employees and their families.”
Many of those out of the workforce because of long-term sickness are more mature employees, partially reflecting how the prevalence of disability and chronic health conditions increases with age. As the government strives to boost the numbers of disabled people of all ages in employment in 2023 and beyond, employers will have a greater responsibility to ensure that everyone can benefit from being in work and is supported.
Katharine Moxham, concluded: “Multiple catalysts point to 2023 being an important year for companies offering group risk benefits. Employees are going to need more support and most are going to be in a weaker financial position meaning that many will be less able to manage on their own. Employers are equally going to be looking to do more for less, acknowledging their employees’ needs but also trying to balance their own books. In 2023, it’s quite possible that group risk, often the unsung hero in many an employer’s employee benefits arsenal, may get better acknowledgement for the all-around support it delivers.”