Fifth of employers concerned about their employees living with long-term chronic illnesses

Press release 19 December 2023. 

A fifth (21%) of employers say they are concerned about employees living with long-term chronic illnesses (such as diabetes, certain types of cancer or multiple sclerosis) according to research1 commissioned by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector. In line with current government focus, GRiD stresses the importance of retaining employees and facilitating their continued employment to improve the UK’s productivity but also because crucially, it is good for their employer and the individual too.

As of July 2023, 2.6 million of the 8.78 million economically inactive people in the UK stated long-term sickness as the reason, according to the Office for National Statistics2.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Staff resignations due to chronic illness are not inevitable. Employers who have support in place and are prepared to be flexible and accommodating can successfully retain those who live with long-term illnesses.”

Good work is good for people

It is widely recognised that good work is good for people. It can provide a social environment, a salary, contribute to a sense of self-worth and provide satisfaction: all helping an individual’s wellbeing. The opposite can also be true that when someone’s ability to remain in a stimulating work situation and the ability to support themselves financially is removed, the individual’s mental and physical health can deteriorate.

What robust support looks like

There are a number of ways for employers to consider if their support serves their employees and their organisation.

As well as offering preventative support, employee benefits should help employees back into work when they have had time off ill. Access to fast-track vocational rehab, talking therapies, virtual GP, second medical opinion services and health apps can all be vital in helping an employee return to work. Such support can also help employees feel part of the team and cared for.

Once they have returned, support also needs to help staff stay in work. This may involve helping them manage symptoms, and might include reasonable adjustments, flexibility, or other more specialised interventions to enable them to continue working.

Support should also be available for HR teams and line managers who have staff with chronic conditions, and can include HR and legal helplines as well as help with mediation.

Employee benefits such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness – collectively known as group risk benefits – offer a powerful solution that encompasses all such support.

Katharine Moxham said: “What ‘good work’ looks like may differ for an employee before and after the diagnosis of a long-term illness. And while the government is considering different ways to reduce the UK’s economically inactive population, we would encourage employers not to wait to see what solution is suggested. Support is already available, and those employers who make the most of it will be the winners.”

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The research was undertaken by Opinium from 9-22 January 2023 among 503 HR decision-makers at UK businesses and from 10-13 January 2023 among 1,212 workers.


For further information please contact:

Sharon Mason 
SMUK Marketing and PR 
Mob: 07747 611773
Land: 01252 843350


Katharine Moxham
Spokesperson for GRiD
Mob: 07887 512508

Notes for editors

About GRiD

Group Risk Development (GRiD) is the industry body for the group risk sector, promoting the value to UK businesses of providing financial protection for their staff, enhancing their well-being and improving employee engagement. Our membership includes insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries and those operating in (or with other interests in) the UK group risk market. Together this forms a collective wealth of experience built over many years. Under the chairmanship of Paul White (head of technical, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing) GRiD aims to promote group risk through a collective voice to Government, policymakers, stakeholders and employers.

GRiD works with government departments and regulators involved in legislation and regulation affecting group risk benefits, and with other organisations involved in the benefits and financial protection arenas. GRiD also seeks to enhance the industry’s standing by encouraging best practice and by participating in industry-wide initiatives such as the professional qualification in group risk managed jointly with the Chartered Insurance Institute.

GRiD’s media activity aims to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products and their benefits for employers and employees.

GRiD’s dedicated spokesperson, Katharine Moxham, provides expert media comment on a full range of group risk issues.

Follow Katharine Moxham on Twitter @KMoxham