POSTED: September 15 2016
A third of all long-term absences caused by cancer

A third of all long-term absences caused by cancer

New data from employee benefits experts Unum has shown that cancer now accounts for almost a third (31%) of all long term sickness claims paid, with breast and gastrointestinal cancers accounting for almost half of those claims. After cancer, the most common conditions claimed for were mental health (19%), musculoskeletal (9%) and cardiovascular problems (8%).

The data comes from Unum’s second annual claims statement, which provides information on all the Income Protection claims it paid to people who became too ill to work between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016.

Findings from this year’s statement include a breakdown of the types of cancer Unum paid claims for. The five most common types of cancer were breast (25%), gastrointestinal (23%), blood and lymph system (12%), nervous system (8%) and respiratory tract (6%). For men, gastrointestinal is the most common cancer (35%), while for women it is breast cancer (47%).

Interestingly around half (48%) of those who made claims have an annual salary of less than £30,000 and two thirds (67%) earn less than £40,000 a year, challenging the misconception that employers only provide Income Protection to top tier staff.

Women are still under-protected; an issue first highlighted in last year’s statement. While women are more likely to go on long-term sick leave, they are far less likely to be covered by Income Protection. More than half of cancer claims (51%) and 44% of all claims were made by women. However, men account for 64% of those covered by Group Income Protection.

The statement also demonstrates how older workers benefit from protection. Less than a quarter of all workers protected by Unum are aged fifty and over but they make 50% of all claims and 57% of cancer claims. However, 22% of people claiming are under 40, showing the importance of protecting the entire workforce.

John Letizia, Head of Public Affairs at Unum, commented on the statement: “This data reminds us that anyone can become too ill to work and benefit from the financial security and support services of Income Protection. But at a time when more and more older people and women are in work, it shows the unique value of Income Protection for the evolving UK workforce. Women are almost one and half times more likely to claim than men and half of our claims come from those aged fifty and over. We urge the government to look at what can be done to encourage employers to protect more of their staff.”

“The statement also lays to rest the misconception that Income Protection is some kind of exclusive or executive benefit. Half of those making a claim earn under £30,000. Their employers recognise the business benefits of providing people with financial support when they’re ill and practical measures to help them return to work when they’re ready”.

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