According to a new report published by health and wellbeing provider, BHSF, two thirds of workers in the manufacturing industry are at risk of financial loss and/or shock if they fall ill.
The report – ‘A high wire with no safety net’ – details the precarious state of employee finances. Many staff would be unable to pay their bills for more than six to eight weeks in the event of medium or long-term illness.
67% of those in the industry worry about their financial security in the event of an unforeseen issue, such as illness, with 38% stating they had lost sleep over these concerns. Even worse, 34% said that financial stress impacted on their job performance.
To make matters worse, only 50% of manufacturing employees have access to sick pay insurance.
The situation is exacerbated by their high levels of debt, averaging circa £2,337 (above the UK average of £1,910). Conversely, those in the manufacturing industry also came out as top savers, with an average of £5,578 (above the average £3,762). But despite these savings, the report also highlights that employees are overly optimistic about their ability to withstand financial shock, with these staff under the illusion that they could last for more than six months on statutory sick pay.
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Brian Hall, Managing Director of BHSF Employee Benefits, said: “The combination of a lack of savings and debt, allied to zero sick pay provision other than the statutory minimum of £89.35 per week, leaves many employees walking a high wire with no safety net. By the time mortgages, car repayments, Council Tax and weekly shops are taken into account, the vast majority of the UK’s workforce will find themselves in dire financial straits in a very short period of time. Many will be forced back to work when they are not fit to return.
“It is very worrying that employees appear to be in a state of denial over how precarious their financial situation is in reality. All it takes is one short bout of ill health to leave two thirds of the entire UK workforce in serious financial straits that could take many years to recover from.”
The group most relied upon – the 30-44 age group – was found to be the most at risk due to being least resilient in the fact of financial problem. Debt levels are increasing for these people, thanks to them being at the age most likely to be supporting children as well as ageing parents, and they are being stretched to breaking point with no safety net.
“There are low cost insurance schemes available that can provide a safety net, but it needs employers to act as the catalyst in the workplace,” added Hall “If employees truly are the most valuable asset, it is incumbent upon employers to be brave and to help educate their workforce about financial issues such as sick pay. All too often the subject is swept under the carpet or not adequately addressed, with a negative impact on employee wellbeing and mental health.”