By Claire West

A lack of financial protection amongst UK workers is taking a financial toll on UK businesses with almost two in three companies (62%) saying they have suffered from the effects of long term sickness absence, according to new research from Unum, one of the UK’s leading financial protection providers.

One of the main reasons behind this concerning finding is that more than half (55%) of UK companies say they continue to pay employees’ full salaries for six months or more if they are off work due to illness or injury.

Many of these employers are shouldering the burden, with only 22% protecting their own business and all or some of their employees by offering any form of financial protection, such as income protection or critical illness, as part of their employee benefits package.

Companies both large and small are affected by long-term sickness absence, with 69% of companies with more than 500 employees saying they had seen a financial impact on their business and 40% of companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Long-term sickness absence is also a reality for UK workers, as one-third (31%) of employees claim that they have had to take one month or more off work as a result of illness or injury; and over two million say that they have had to take off half a year or more due to illness or injury.

Marco Forato, Unum's Chief Marketing Officer, said: “Employee long-term absence as a result of illness or injury is a real financial burden for UK businesses".

"In the current challenging business environment this issue is only likely to place greater strain on employers and unfortunately our research shows that as companies are not taking steps to protect themselves or their employees, it will continue to be a financial drain on businesses for some time to come.”

On a regional basis, Unum’s research reveals that companies based in Yorkshire and Humberside are potentially the most exposed to long-term sickness absence issues with 41% of workers having taken a month or more off work as a result of illness or injury.

Workers in Wales and the East of England, meanwhile, have the lowest incidence of long-term sickness absence with only a quarter (25%) of workers in each region having to take a month or more.


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