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Employee benefits must be overhauled to protect workers

According to Keeping Pace? Financial Insecurity in the Modern Workforce by Cass Business School and commissioned by Unum, there are 46% more older workers and 11% more workers who are ill or disabled compared to 30 years ago, Financial Director’s sister title WSB reports.

Cass Business School Professor Nick Bacon said: “Financial insecurity has been compounded by an increased cost of living and higher levels of unemployment, meaning that employees are more likely to fall into financial difficulty.

“During the same period, employee benefits have declined, leaving a gaping hole in the financial protection of today’s employees.”

The report identified three groups most ‘at risk’ due to the likelihood of periods of unemployment: those with disabilities or long-term illnesses, older workers and employees with caring responsibilities.

Women are also more likely to fall into one of the ‘at risk’ categories, meaning that they were disproportionately impacted by the employee benefits gap.

It recommended that employers provide specialist vocational support to help employees return to work, offer income protection (IP) to increase financial security for the long-term sick and make workplace adaptations to both help people remain in employment, and to help people back to work.

In addition, by 2020 a third of the UK’s workforce will be over 50.Employers should partner with insurers to develop and offer group social care protection to help employees meet the first £75,000 of care costs, the report said.

Unum UK CEO Peter O’Donnell said: “More than ever, people are looking to their employers to provide the financial protection they need. A better protected workforce is good for the employer, as well as the employee.

“From our experience, we know that employees with the rehabilitation support that comes with IP find it easier to transition back to work, should they leave the workforce.”

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