A third of employers (31%) do not make early interventions to support staff returning to work if they are on long-term sick leave due to ill health, disability or injury, according to research by Group Risk Development.
Research carried out among 500 employers, published July 2020, also found that an additional 32% of employers do not offer financial support to employees, if they are absent for six months or more.
Over half (52%) of employers say they cannot afford to offer these benefits, while 32% say it is not their responsibility.
Similarly, 58% admitted that they cannot afford to offer financial support to employees, while 30% believed that it is not their responsibility.
Out of the employers who offer early support for employees returning from long-term leave, 50% provide this for all employees.
The most popular types of return-to-work policies that employers offer are emotional support, with 46% offering this, graded return-to-work plans (43%), and practical support such as offering employees access to rehabilitation specialists (39%).
An additional 34% offer line manager training, 31% offer access to medical specialists, 28% offer second medical opinions, 27% offer to pay for treatment, while 24% offer physio support.
Katharine Moxham, a spokesperson at 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.”
“The longer a member of staff is absent from work, the greater likelihood that they will not return to work following their absence. Not only is this costly for the employer but it is also hugely disruptive as the employer cannot accurately plan ahead to replace the employee and for the resources needed to recruit and train a new member of staff.”
“Absent employees who are not supported by their employer, are likely to very quickly start to feel detached from work, and that creates hurdles which can loom large and prevent a return to work. Support is available, and we would encourage businesses to investigate such support – we think they’d be pleasantly surprised at not just how comprehensive the range is, but that it’s very likely to be cheaper than funding support on an individual, ad-hoc basis.”