Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector said: “Our workplaces are almost unrecognisable from the institutions they were at the start of the decade, including greater focus on how employers should contribute to supporting the health of the workforce.

“The last decade has seen great steps towards parity for mental and physical health and we now also have a much better awareness of how an individual’s mental state is often directly affected by their physical wellness.

“2020 will see Government’s expectations that employers take an active role in supporting the physical, mental, social and financial health of their employees gathering momentum – encouraging and coercing employers in rising to the challenge of making our workplaces ever more supportive and inclusive.”

  1. Improving financial resilience

The cross-industry Access to Insurance Working Group (which is now reporting into the Cabinet Office) has a priority to improve consumer access to protection insurance, particularly for those with long-term health conditions and disabilities, thus improving outcomes and financial resilience for the UK’s population.

The workplace is key to this aim. Group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) are inclusive in nature and a generous level of cover can generally be offered to all employees, without the complicated and tedious need to submit medical evidence.

Through 2020 and beyond, the group risk market will be working with Government to make it easier for more employers (especially SMEs) to protect their people against the financial devastation that households experience following a loss of earnings as a result of death, disability, illness or accident.

  1. Statement of Written Particulars

Following the Taylor Review, there are legislative changes under the government’s Good Work Plan coming into force in April 2020. This means that employers must give employees access to a written statement of various particulars of their employment on day one or before and, amongst other things, this now needs to include their entitlement to sick pay.

Over time, this change means that employees will have a better grasp of what, if any, sick pay they are entitled to from their employer which, in some cases, will eliminate the assumption that their employer will take care of them.

Ultimately the legislation will help employees make a better-informed decision about their own provision, encouraging them either to take out their own protection insurance or ask their employer to provide a group scheme, if they do not currently go beyond Statutory Sick Pay.

Due to the period of purdah around the election, the final guidance for employers hasn’t yet been issued and so, when it is published, employers will need to grasp the changes and take action quickly.

  1. Equality & Diversity

The recently published CII/Scope good practice guidance for employers Achieving an inclusive working environment for disabled people, lays down five challenges to employers to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their ever-evolving and increasingly diverse workforce. Measures range from signing up to the DWP Disability Confident scheme, to celebrating achievement and progress made in supporting employees with disability.

Of particular note is the CII animation on invisible illness which can help educate people on the different forms they can take.

Moxham concluded: “Many employers already do a lot to look after their staff, and those that do will find such changes much easier to implement, as many will find themselves exceeding expectations in terms of legislation and best practice.

“For those that find themselves falling short, or for whom managing employee wellbeing is an uphill struggle, now is the time to review how staff are supported, and consider what processes and benefits will help. Employers with group risk in place will find help is readily available for this, not just because they’ve insured their financial liabilities but also because there’s a whole host of extra help, support and advice for both the employer and employee that come along with a group risk policy.”