The Rising Demand for Legal Services in the Workplace - American Society of Employers - Heather Nezich

The Rising Demand for Legal Services in the Workplace

Looking for a new voluntary benefit to add to your portfolio? A recent study conducted by MetLife Legal Plans reveals a growing demand for legal services in the workplace. MetLife's Legal Access Study indicates that within the past five years, more than two-thirds of today's workforce, 67%, have confronted legal issues. These challenges extend beyond personal lives, affecting overall well-being and work productivity.

Research underscores that one in three employees lacks sufficient access to legal resources, contributing to elevated levels of stress and burnout. Additionally, 61% express concern about the financial repercussions of legal issues, while nearly half, or 47%, are apprehensive about the impact on their mental health.

Ingrid Tolentino, CEO of MetLife Legal Plans, emphasizes, "Our research has demonstrated that workers' holistic well-being has deteriorated over the past year as their demand for quality legal advice has grown. Employers should consider the valuable role legal plans can play in their benefits offerings. By providing legal plans as a voluntary benefit, employers can enhance the overall well-being of their workforce, fulfill their DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) commitments, and support the evolving needs of today's diverse workforce."

The Benefits of Legal Plans for Employees' Lives

Access to legal plans has a profound positive impact on employees' financial and mental health. MetLife's research shows that 67% of employees with legal benefits through their employer feel financially healthy, compared to 52% who do not have such benefits. Similarly, 75% of employees with legal benefits report feeling mentally healthy, whereas only 63% of those without legal benefits can say the same.

Expanding access to legal services can also yield favorable business outcomes. Employers offering legal services are 12% more likely to report increased productivity within their workforce, compared to those who do not provide legal plans.

By offering comprehensive benefits that address diverse employee needs, employers can better fulfill their DEI commitments. The research highlights that employees with a legal plan are 25% more likely to express satisfaction with the availability of fair and equitable opportunities within their organizations and 40% more likely to be satisfied with the social wellness benefits and programs offered.

Addressing the "Justice Gap"

Despite the fact that a majority of employees (67%) have encountered legal situations within the past five years, only a mere 7% sought legal representation. Marginalized groups face an even higher likelihood of encountering legal issues:

  • 78% of employees living with a disability,
  • 75% of LGBTQ+ individuals,
  • 69% of Hispanic individuals,
  • 66% of Black individuals, and
  • 58% of Asian individuals have also faced legal issues.

However, these groups make up only a small fraction of the 7% who sought legal assistance.

Workers in these groups often bear the brunt of limited access to legal services, an injustice commonly referred to as the "justice gap." For example, while 24% of employees indicated cost as a barrier to legal access, this percentage increases among minority demographics (38% with a disability, 34% LGBTQ+, 30% Black, and 29% Hispanic). These individuals also exhibit lower levels of trust in the legal system, often actively avoiding it due to a lack of confidence.

Supporting Employees Through Legal Access

Beyond addressing the deficiency in legal support access, MetLife's study unveiled a general lack of understanding about legal plans among employees, which contributes to the underutilization of these benefits. Many employees harbor misconceptions about legal plans, including their coverage, costs, enrollment processes, and overall benefits.

Ingrid Tolentino emphasizes, "Simply offering legal plans is not enough for employers. It's essential that they prioritize educating employees on how to leverage legal plans to protect themselves in uncertain situations and life's significant milestones."

By providing enhanced education about legal services, employers exhibit a heightened level of care for their workforce. Employees who utilize their legal plans are far more likely to feel cared for (73% vs. 54%). Effective communication strategies, such as hosting lunch and learns, providing human resources office hours, and engaging with diverse groups to understand their unique experiences, not only support employees' evolving needs but also exemplify workplace equity.


Source: MetLife

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