One in three bosses are unaware of the implications of the Welfare Reform Act, and of those who are, 46 per cent have not yet changed their company strategy for wellness, absence or support provision, according to new research.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development, which commissioned the research.
says the Act, which recently received royal assent, means vocational rehabilitation should be pushed up employers’ agendas. The Act sets out a framework that will see virtually everyone on benefits set on a pathway back to work. Moxham says it should be seen in a broader context alongside NICE guidelines on long term sickness absence and incapacity for work and the reform of the sick note system.
She argues this all suggests far greater responsibility for employers to provide vocational rehabilitation and support to enable employees to stay in the workplace.
She adds that with the Government’s first National Strategy for Mental Health and Employment to set expectations of employers in improving wellbeing in the workplace and Fit for Work Service pilots to provide
back-to-work support for people off sick from work, the trend looks set to continue.
The GRiD research was conducted in October 2009 by Lightspeed research among 500 UK companies with up to 1,000 employees.
Moxham says: “The group risk market is already extremely well placed to support Welfare Reform. Given that vocational rehabilitation is a primary feature of most Group Income Protection policies, an employer with a GIP
policy is currently able to assess an employee’s level of incapacity and to commence a return to work programme long before any assessment for State support is even due to commence.
“Additionally, GIP policies often carry additional free or discounted support services, such as absence management, employee assistance programmes, GP help-lines, online health assessments, second opinion
services and occupational health options. An employer with a current generation GIP policy in place will be well-equipped to function in a post welfare reform world.