Employers concerned about employees with long-term chronic illnesses

Twenty-one percent of employers express concerns about employees living with long-term chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, or multiple sclerosis, according to a study commissioned by GRiD, the group risk sector's industry body.

Echoing the government's focus, GRiD highlights the benefits of retaining employees and facilitating their employment for both UK productivity and the well-being of employers and individuals.

As of July 2023, 2.6 million out of 8.78 million economically inactive individuals in the UK cited long-term sickness as their reason, based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented, “Staff resignations due to chronic illness are not inevitable. Employers who provide support and are willing to be flexible can successfully retain those living with long-term illnesses.”

The benefits of good work are widely acknowledged. It offers social interaction, income, a sense of self-worth, and satisfaction, all contributing to individual well-being. Conversely, losing the ability to work and support oneself financially can negatively impact mental and physical health.

Effective employer support can take various forms. Alongside preventative measures, employee benefits should aid in returning to work after illness. Fast-track vocational rehab, access to therapies, virtual GP services, second medical opinions, and health apps are essential in this regard. Continued support to help employees manage symptoms and stay in work may include adjustments and flexibility.

Support is also necessary for HR teams and managers handling staff with chronic conditions, including access to HR and legal advice and mediation assistance. Group risk benefits like life assurance, income protection, and critical illness cover are comprehensive solutions for such support.

Moxham added, “‘Good work’ might look different for an employee before and after a long-term illness diagnosis. While the government explores ways to reduce the UK’s economically inactive population, we urge employers not to wait for a proposed solution. Support is available now, and employers who utilize it will be the most successful.”