New data from employee benefits experts Unum has shown that 7 out of 10 people with serious health problems were supported back into employment after using its award-winning vocational rehabilitation service provided as part of a Group Income Protection plan. Mental health (41%), musculoskeletal problems (19%) and cancer (9%) were the most common health conditions faced by those successfully returning to work. Conditions related to the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, and to the heart and circulation made up the remaining big five health problems (both accounting for 6% of people returning to work).
The data comes from Unum’s first Return to Work statement, which provides an overview of the 1,470 people with serious health problems who used its rehabilitation service last year. When someone is too ill to work, Unum’s rehabilitation experts help them agree on a route back to work with their employer when they are ready.
After using the service, 7 in 10 (68%) were able to return to work, in almost all cases to the same employer they had when they fell ill.
The statement highlights that Group Income Protection helps support employees of all ages back into work. Over a third (35%) of those returning to work were under 40 years old and 15% were under 30. Just over a third (34%) were over 50.
Women are more likely than men to use rehabilitation services. Whilst only 40% of those with Group Income Protection from Unum are female, women make up half of those returning to work.
An estimated 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems at some point in their life – causing over 70 million working days to be lost each year – further supporting the need to do more to help people with mental health problems back into work . Similarly, each year 280,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and more than half will live for ten years or more. By 2030, the number of working age people who have been diagnosed with cancer will have more than doubled to 1.7 million , demonstrating the growing need for employers to think about their employee benefits programmes and how they can support people should they fall seriously ill.
Increasingly, Unum also provides services to help prevent health problems occurring in the first place. Unum works with employers in a number of ways, including advising on improving the health of their workforce, training line managers on how to support colleagues with health conditions and providing confidential emotional and practical support for employees. A wealth of information is available free to employers on Unum’s online workplace wellbeing hub
Commenting on the Statement, Unum’s Head of Vocational Rehabilitation, Joy Reymond said, “Getting back to work is a key milestone in people’s recovery. It makes them feel stronger, healthier and that they are getting back in control. Our first Return to Work statement shows the tremendous support we give people with some of the most challenging health conditions to reach that goal. Our success come from the breadth of support we provide – from vocational rehabilitation for people who have fallen out of work to training for line managers on how to lead healthy, engaged teams. Together they make a huge difference.”
Head of Public Affairs at Unum, John Letizia, said, “This statement proves that Income Protection is about much more than just protecting people’s finances. Mental health and musculoskeletal problems are the biggest causes of disability and sickness absence in the UK. By supporting people when they fall ill, we can make a huge difference to their chances of getting back to work. That is great for people and their families but also for the financial health of the UK economy”.
Full press release on www.unum.co.uk