Half of UK employers are failing to comply with legislation introduced last year on sick pay, according to research undertaken for group risk protection industry body Grid.
The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378), which came into force on 6 April 2020, require employers to tell their staff, on day one of employment or before, what their entitlement to any sick pay is.
However, Grid’s research shows many are still reviewing their communications and protocols (28%), some were aware but had not taken any action (10%), some were completely unaware of the change (7%) and 5% were not sure how they had adapted to the new legislation.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Grid, said: “Employers have had a lot on their plates over the last year, and we appreciate this is one more thing for them to think about.
“However, many employers are looking to enhance their support for staff right now and this legislation helps create an opportunity to review that. And, as employees look to their employer to know what support is available, this is an opportunity to engage with them on exactly what that support looks like in practice.”
The research was undertaken by Opinium during January among 505 HR decision makers at UK businesses.
Employers missing a trick
Employers who have not complied with the legislation are not only breaking the law but they are fundamentally missing a trick, according to Grid.
The organisation believes this is an opportunity to let staff know how employers are going to look after them should they be off work with sickness or injury, an issue that has been particularly highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many employees often assume their employer will look after them if they are unable to work but in fact they may only offer Statutory Sick Pay of £96.35 a week for up to 28 weeks.
That understanding may have come too late for some staff during the pandemic but employers who do go the extra mile by providing full support, including access to health and wellbeing specialists, early intervention and rehabilitation, and specialist therapies, should be using this as a chance to differentiate themselves.
Katharine Moxham continued: “Every employer will know the expense of recruitment, in terms of both time and resources, when staff leave for pastures new.
“This legislation means those companies who truly value their employees and demonstrate that by supporting them when they are absent, are more likely to win the battle to recruit and importantly, retain, the best talent.”
Moxham also believes the legislation is an opportunity for all employers to review their employee benefits communication strategy.
She concluded: “We know that employers don’t always fully understand the minutiae of the employee benefits that they offer, which makes it more difficult to communicate their importance to staff.
“However, the employers who then find themselves falling short in comparison to competitors when it comes to providing enhanced absence support for employees have a binary choice: to improve their offering or explain to staff that they only offer the statutory minimum.”
Grid has recently worked with the ABI to launch an employer toolkit aimed at helping employers to comply with the Good Work Plan requirement for day one statements and encouraging SMEs to promote employee health and wellbeing.