July 21, 2024

COVID19 lessons for employers: Key person protection and key worker benefits

Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, considers what lessons employers have learned about employee protection


As the nation’s businesses return to work after the national lockdown, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (Howden) is strongly encouraging employers to learn some important lessons from the last few difficult months.  In particular the benefits intermediary believes that employers should perhaps more readily recognise two – often underinsured – people risks within their businesses.

Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden says;   “There are two significant risks at either end of the corporate structure and pay scales which employers may now more readily recognise.  At executive level there is the risk to the organisation’s Key-people, and within the wider workforce there is the evident need to provide adequate protection for all employees (including Key-workers) and their families.”


Lesson 1 – Ill-health and key people

An early lesson from the crisis was that illness is no respecter of status or seniority.  The nation witnessed high profile scientists, government ministers, and even the Prime Minister contracting coronavirus.  Herbert says; “Often senior people believe they are invincible, but this pandemic has provided ample evidence that this is simply not the case. This should act as a powerful reminder to all employers to review their protection insurances for employees deemed of major importance to the business.”

Howden suggests that most organisations have at least some “key” people who would be very difficult to rapidly replace without significant challenges to the employer’s business plans.  The damage caused might be in the form of lost revenues, lost relationships, lost skills, or possibly all the above.

The company recommends that key individuals should be protected by at least one of the range of business protection insurances which are widely available to employers.  These policies are designed to protect the employer rather than the employee, and are a vital item of risk planning for employers of any size.

Lesson 2 – All workers are key workers

For the first time in many years there has been some much-needed recognition of lower earning employees across the country.  Such individuals may  fill what are sometimes perceived as more routine roles,, yet many were pivotal to looking after and feeding the nation during the long weeks of lockdown.

Herbert continues, “Low paid does not equal low skills or low importance.  Every employee represents an important cog in the corporate machine, even if that role often goes unnoticed.  So it is to be hoped that more businesses will now readily accept this simple truth, and accordingly aim to level-up employee benefits to protect all workers and their dependents in the future.”

Howden point out that routinely providing core benefits to lower-paid workers will also potentially shorten illness absences, improve engagement and productivity, and can be a valuable recruitment and retention tool too.

Herbert concluded; “It would be a mistake for businesses not to learn from the unique challenges of recent months.  Having adequate protection for workers of all grades is one important area that we hope many more businesses will now recognise and address.”   

For more information, please visit www.howdengroup.co.uk