New guidance from trade charity helps those facing illness

With 960,000 employees on sick leave for a month or more each year on average*, and with nearly 60% of all helpline calls to the Licensed Trade Charity Support & Care being debt-related, a year-on-year increase of 8%, new guidance and support is being launched this week which will provide businesses and HR teams with targeted support for employees in difficulty.

“Our guide on ‘How to Avoid Debt During Illness’ aims to help those who have become ill or disabled from getting into financial problems. By providing them with support and guidance to becoming and remaining debt-free, we believe we can play an important role in securing a more positive future for them and their families,” said Liz Gaffer, director of marketing and charity services at the Licensed Trade Charity. Guidance material and support is available in two formats, one for employees and the other for the self-employed.

The latest stats from the Office for National Statistics (March 2015) show that more than one in three adults (36%) have reported having long-standing illness or disability, with one in five (20%) reporting having a limiting long-standing illness in 2013. The Department for Work and Pensions estimates sick pay costs employers around L9 billion a year, while figures from the Debt Advisory Centre report that while short spells of sick leave have fallen, long-term absences have increased, with stress, mental health issues and musculoskeletal disorders, such as chronic back or joint pain, as the reasons cited.

“Debt is a double-edged sword. For anyone long-term sick or disabled and unable to work, the burden of money problems can hamper their recovery and chances of working again.  While people with debt problems can quickly become ill and be signed off work for long periods of time.

“We want employers in the licensed trade to tell their employees that if they are ill and worried about money issues, we are here to listen and help. We can offer help with money matters and provide advice on how to avoid falling behind with the rent and other bills,” explained Liz.

Information available to employers includes:

·        Promotion material on ‘How to avoid debt during illness’ suitable for publication on websites, within in-house magazines and via email;

·        An easy-to-read guide that offers practical help for anyone finding themselves with money problems while taking time off sick. It covers benefits sufferers may be entitled to, and easy to understand advice on planning a budget and dealing with creditors. Plus there’s information on practical issues such as help for paying with prescriptions and travel costs if you have to go into hospital.

·        Free Support & Care helpline, available by calling 0808 801 0550 or online at www.supportandcare.org

Licensed Trade Charity Support & Care guidance is free of charge to people working in pubs and has long-established experience in providing practical help with housing, health problems, money issues and family matters.

The ‘How to avoid debt during illness’ guide is available by visiting www.supportandcare.org/money-problems/10887.html. Anyone wishing to find out more information about the services and help provided should go to www.supportandcare.org or call the free helpline 0808 801 0550 8am-8pm (the helpline is free to landlines and most mobile networks).

*According to figures from the Department of Work & Pensions as many as 960,000 employees were on sick leave for a month or more each year on average between October 2010 to September 2013. With more than 130 million days lost to sickness absence every year in Great Britain.