Picture: Reuters
Much like in the rest of the world, the typical South African family structure has changed. 

Single-parent families are on the rise and increasingly more households are headed by women. The combined effect of these structural shifts has been a growing number of single working mothers.

This is according to the latest Statistics SA general household report, which states that women head almost four out of 10 households (37.9 percent). The majority of children (43.1 percent) live only with their mothers, in contrast with the smaller percentage (3.3 percent) who live only with their fathers. Only one-third (33.8 percent) of children live with both parents.

Given that the head of the household is usually the main breadwinner, employers need to consider these shifting household demographics when structuring their employee benefit packages.

The reality is that many single working mothers are the sole caregivers and providers for their families. Income certainty for them, therefore, has a wide-reaching impact, as it determines the future of their families.

Given this vulnerability, these female breadwinners need to protect their most valuable asset - their income. Protecting their ability to earn an income helps to safeguard the future of their families in the event that they are unable to work due to disability or a critical illness.

An unexpected and life-changing disability or illness can have a considerable impact on an employee and her family.

Employers can help by providing these women with holistic employee benefits that ensure income certainty.

For single mothers who would have no one else to rely on financially if the unfortunate was to happen, the provision of holistic employee benefits that include disability and critical illness cover at the right level for their needs is crucial. This will also ensure that they can get the care that they need to get back to work, without having to spend their personal savings that is kept for rainy days.

Employers are encouraged to use the services of a financial adviser who will provide advice on the appropriate employee benefits offerings that could help to protect their businesses and their employees against the financial impacts they may face. The financial adviser will design and deliver fit-for-purpose solutions elegantly tailored around the needs of the employer and provide employees with holistic financial advice, and will also partner with a service provider that will meet the real needs of the employees.

By partnering with a service provider that offers leading bundled retirement, health and insurance solutions will ensure that the health and financial well-being of employees is covered, while allowing for innovative reward programmes that will benefit employees; body and pocket simultaneously.

Rigitte van Zyl is the head of client value propositions at Momentum Corporate.

PERSONAL FINANCE