Benefits that provide financial and emotional support to employees when the worst happens are coming into their own right now.

With the new government directive to work from home where possible, and many employers looking at how to retain staff under new circumstances – such as with reduced hours or on furloughed pay – employers have a lot to consider in terms of managing their business and staff.

Some employee benefits are designed to provide financial and emotional support for staff who are absent through ill-health, or to dependants of employees that die, such as group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness). Indeed, nearly 2.5 million employees in the UK are covered by schemes that will provide financial support if they’re unable to work through illness, and over 9.5 million employees are covered by schemes that will pay out a lump sum to their dependants if they die while employed.

It’s easy to overlook the value of such benefits during times of normal working practice. However, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, many employers are now looking at the detail of such schemes to ensure they’re getting support for their staff and their business.

Mental health, serious illness and death

Many employees are dealing with stress and anxiety as a result of Covid-19. For some this will escalate and result in a need for professional help or prolonged time off work. Support can be found within group risk benefits which can offer fast-track access to professional mental-health support, or financial support for those unable to work.

The majority of people who have Covid-19 will recover. Sadly, others won’t survive, and if they have group life assurance their dependants will receive financial support.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, the group risk industry body said, ‘Emotional and financial support is needed on an unprecedented scale right now, and it will be group risk benefits that employers will look to to provide it.

‘I’m very proud of how our industry steps up to the mark during times of need. Each employer’s arrangements will be specific to them, so it’s important they understand what’s covered within their own schemes, to make sure they’re getting all the support available for those dealing with the effects of Covid-19. If they haven’t already engaged with their advisers, now is the time.’