The cost-of-living crisis – what can employers do?

Michael Pope

Article written by Michael Pope, Consultant Solicitor, Employment department

With inflation hitting its highest level for 40 years and prices for food, fuel and energy prices soaring, the ‘cost-of-living crisis’ is having an impact on employees across the UK.

For some employers, the cost-of-living crisis has already started to affect their employees which has in turn led to a decrease in productivity. For many, the notion of offering pay rises and the like is too expensive. So, what can employers do?

Options that employers could consider include:

  • Hybrid (flexible) working arrangements to reduce travel costs
  • Interest free crisis loans
  • Season ticket loans
  • Access to staff discounts
  • Financial wellbeing schemes/assistance
  • Selling back unused holiday entitlement (subject to the employee using their statutory minimum requirement)
  • Salary sacrifice schemes for cycle-to-work, health/dental care and childcare vouchers
  • Introducing financial education programmes to teach staff about budgeting, saving, debt management and retirement planning

With inflation soaring, some UK employers are topping up pay with one-off payments. Employers could communicate with staff – for example, via anonymous surveys. This could help the employer understand the hardships being faced, the options available and the types of support that may be useful to increase productivity and avoid the spiralling costs of ‘absenteeism’.

Taking steps to look after the financial wellbeing of your employees can help to strengthen their financial resilience to help with the cost-of-living crisis and help to safeguard them for the future also.

It is important to note that businesses are also facing price hikes meaning it is crucial that a balance is struck between the needs of the employer and the employee. Recently, we have seen pubs and restaurants considering their opening days/times in light of rising energy bills while small independent coffee shops may be forced to close as a result of unprecedented increases in utility costs. At Grant Saw, our employment lawyers are offering a free helpline service to discuss issues that may affect staff morale and productivity and we offer workshops for employers based on areas of uncertainty. If you would like further information, please feel free to email me or contact the department on 020 8858 6971.