Canada Life research: Staff unaware of financial support when sick

Employees are unaware of the level of financial support they may be entitled to if they were unable to work due to sickness, according to research by Canada Life Group.

The research found that one in five (19%) employees did not know how long their employer would continue to pay their salary for if they could not work due to illness, and almost a third (30%) thought they would not receive their salary beyond three months of being unable to work.

However, 12% of respondents thought they would continue to receive their full salary for the duration of their illness, but one in ten claimed to have no idea how much they would receive.

Although sick pay schemes vary between employers, they must provide staff with either the equivalent or more than statutory sick pay (SSP).

The standard weekly rate for SSP is £79.15 a week, which can be paid for up to 28 weeks. An employee qualifies for this if their average weekly earnings are above £97, and it comes into effect after the employee has been sick for four consecutive days.

The survey found people are more likely to rely upon savings (41%) or the State (21%).

However, a third (33%) did not know which benefits might be available from the State in the event of an illness, while 63% did not know how long the State would provide them with benefits for if they were ill.

Paul Avis, sales and marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “It is very worrying that so few employees understand and are aware of the level of support they would be entitled to in the event of an illness preventing them from working.

“At a time such as this, concerns about where an income might come from and how much it might be would cause undue stress to an employee and their family.

“In addition, the research revealed a significant dependence upon state benefits and savings, yet very few people have sufficient savings to sustain them through a prolonged period of illness.

“In addition, in this time of greater austerity and cuts to public spending and benefits it is important that employees and employers are aware of their entitlements. Furthermore, we are seeing the onus for protecting an employees’ income move from the state to the employer and individual.

“The group risk market has the opportunity to really highlight the value of employee benefits in ensuring security and peace of mind, at a time of stress when it offers most support”.

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