Employers boost wellbeing funding during Coronavirus pandemic

One in four employers have increased spend on employee assistance programmes (EAPs) as a result of COVID-19

A snap Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) survey found despite a reduction in business transactions, companies were still looking to either improve the quality of service offered or extend EAPs to more of their workforce.

One in eight employers (13%) increased spending on their existing virtual GP service while a further 8% have introduced virtual GPs for the first time.

Companies also introduced new insurance wellbeing support, with 62% introducing financial education, 40% refunding season ticket loans and 15% offering support for employees whose spouses are affected by job/income loss.

The number of employers planning to cancel or defer pay rises has also dropped since the government’s announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 20 March.

Just 7% of employers now plan to cancel pay rises, down from 31% in REBA’s previous snap survey conducted between 17-19 March.

A third (32%) will now postpone pay reviews, compared to 44% which said they would do so two weeks ago.

Almost two thirds (63%) plan to use the scheme to furlough staff, of which 96% will use it for selected job roles and 4% will use for all staff.

Debi O’Donovan, director of REBA, said: “After the initial shock, many employers have had time to reassess to take a medium to longer term view. We see employers trying to control costs while keeping themselves in business, but also preparing for a comeback after this pandemic.

“We know from members that changing pay and bonuses is a contractual issue so cannot be done easily without legal repercussions. Also, many employers are balancing the need to engage talent ready for a post-coronavirus crisis upturn.”