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Employer support for sick staff is far less than expected

Employers are doing far less to support the health and wellbeing of their staff than many of their employees believe, research has revealed.

Seven in ten employees in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) believed their employer would support them during long absences, and more than half thought they would continue to be paid, according to a survey by insurance firm Ellipse.

But more than a third of employers (35 per cent) said they would not pay anything at all after the statutory sick pay period, and two in five (43 per cent) said they would pay only a part of the salary. Just 6 per cent said they would go on paying the full salary after the period and only one in ten SME employers had insurance for sick pay.

Wellbeing integral to business strategy

Too few organisations are thinking about how a culture of wellbeing could be established at work to support the overall business strategy, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said.

One-off wellbeing initiatives were no substitute for 'proactive' employee wellbeing programmes based on sound management, leadership and a supportive workplace culture, it said.

Only 8 per cent of UK organisations had a standalone wellbeing strategy to support its business strategy, and the majority (57 per cent) took wellbeing into account in business decisions to a little extent or not at all, its research found.

Wellbeing never more important

The direct financial costs associated with absence and presenteeism is often worse for SMEs, a report from the Work Foundation said. Smaller firms may struggle to get cover for absent staff, leading to loss of business, operational difficulties and an inability to meet customer relations, it said.

Its recommendations included creating a dedicated portal for SME health and wellbeing information, awareness-raising of existing initiatives, and investment in training programmes to meet SME needs.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, President of the CIPD, said, 'In the fast-changing world of work, wellbeing has never been more important. With the UK at the bottom of the G7 and near the bottom of the G20 countries on productivity per capita, the way we manage people and create cultures that enhance wellbeing are now bottom-line issues.'

Acas publications and services

Acas has information on how work can have a positive impact on Health and wellbeing and has published the pdf icon Advisory booklet - Health Work and Wellbeing [647kb].

There's also detailed information on Absence, including Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide, which is designed to small firms cope with sickness absence situations.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you develop and introduce an effective health, work and wellbeing policy and culture. For more information see Health, wellbeing and managing attendance, or call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150.

Practical Acas training is also available on the related areas of Health, work and wellbeing, Stress, Staff retention, Absence and Creating an attendance culture.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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