34% of employers do not offer financial support for seriously ill staff

34% of employers don't offer financial support for seriously ill staff

A third (34%) of employers do not provide financial support if employees are diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, according to research by Group Risk Development (GRiD).

The research, published June 2020, which surveyed 500 human resources decision-makers, also found that just under one in ten (9%) believe that financial support is not their responsibility.

However, over three-quarters (77%) of respondents offer some form of practical or emotional support for employees if they are diagnosed with a serious illness.

Furthermore, one third (33%) offer a staged or graded return to work, 32% offer emotional support such as counselling, while just over one in four (27%) offer access to practical support such as access to a rehabilitation specialist.

A further 21% of respondents choose to offer access to medical specialists such as oncologists, while 18% offer access to a second medical opinion service. Additionally, 16% pay for treatment, while 13% offer access to physiotherapy.

Katharine Moxham, a spokesperson at GRiD, said: “Employers can often feel at a loss about how to best support staff who are newly diagnosed with cancer, those who are currently going through treatment, and those who have recently overcome their illness. It can also be difficult to know exactly what is the right support to offer as the situation changes for the employee.

“However, with so many innovative group risk providers incorporating a wide range of additional support within their policies, providing access to financial support should now be the absolute baseline for employers who want to support their staff at this time, and there’s a wealth of extra help that can be tapped into.

“From emotional support such as counselling, through to practical support such as rehabilitation, group risk providers offer a range of meaningful solutions that provide access to financial, practical and emotional support; indeed, everything in this list that employers say they’re offering but may be funding themselves. As this support is provided by experts, they know exactly what an individual will need at a specific stage of their cancer diagnosis, without an employer trying to second guess and potentially get it wrong, and all the support is available as part of the policy.

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“In the event that an employee is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just the individual who is watching and waiting to see how their employer will respond, but the wider body of staff will be monitoring the situation too. Many employers want to do the right thing by their staff, but from an employee relations points of view, it’s important they’re also aware that their actions are being judged by more than just the individual concerned.

“It’s highly likely that many employers are in fact better equipped to support employees with cancer than they currently appreciate.”