New data suggests that UK workers are being pushed to the brink of burnout, anxiety and depression due to financial worries as they fear they can’t afford to take time off when they are ill.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is currently £109.40 a week (around a third of the minimum wage). It is paid from the fourth consecutive day of illness for up to 28 weeks to eligible employees whose average weekly earnings are more than £123 a week, meaning 1.6 million workers are ineligible for any SSP at all.
Research compiled by financial wellbeing service Wagestream, reports that 83% of frontline workers are concerned they would need to work through illness as they couldn’t afford to take sick leave. Being signed off for two weeks or more would put 91% under financial pressure, while 28% would be forced to go without heating or eating. The research also highlights the mental health impact of the sick pay crisis with 86% reporting that an absence of 2 weeks or more would lead to feelings of anxiety and or depression, with 92% concerned about burnout if forced to work through illness.
Financial worries are one of the main causes of stress in the UK. The anxiety caused can affect an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. This in turn can lead to poor performance, presenteeism or periods of absence, and is a major concern for employers.
How can employers help?
Employers have a duty of care to protect the health of their employees, and there is also a strong financial incentive to do so with a return on investment in reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. However, this can be a difficult area to deal with, where the efforts the employer makes to help an employee who is genuinely too ill to work have to balance against the costs to the business of persistent absenteeism and long-term absence, which ultimately can impact upon the health and safety of colleagues if the absence cannot be covered.
EML can advise employers on how to deal with absence management issues from an HR, Employment Law and Health and Safety perspective, including advising on necessary interventions to address the causes of absenteeism in some cases.
Our Health, Safety & Wellbeing Consultant Joanne Howley is an accredited Mental Health First Aider who can help your organisation develop an Employee Wellbeing programme to suit the needs and budget of your business. Jo is an accredited Life Coach and NLP Master Practitioner with over 30 years’ experience, and is a Senior Member of the Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists Register (ACCPH). Jo can address the root cause of the absence in question, and at the same time, our skilled HR consultants can advise you how to manage individual absence issues, ensuring that issues are driven to a desired resolution rather than left to drift, leading to more problems in the longer term. This may involve assisting with absence review meetings, obtaining Occupational Health Reports, advising on any required workplace adjustments and dealing with capability terminations.
If you require any further guidance on this subject, or have any other HR, Employment Law or Health, Safety & Wellbeing issue you would like to discuss, please call 01942 727 200 and speak to a member of the team or email email@example.com