Employers unaware of implications of welfare reform – GRiD

One in three bosses is completely unaware of the implications of the Welfare
Reform Act, and of those who are, 46 per cent have done nothing to change
their company strategy for wellness, absence or support provision, according
to new research.

Group Risk Development, which commissioned the research, says the fact that the Welfare Reform Act has now received Royal Assent should push vocational rehabilitation up the agenda of employers.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD says the Act, which sets out a framework that will see virtually
everyone on benefits set on a pathway back to work, 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.