Unum has published its second annual Return to Work statement showing that 1040 people with serious health problems got back to work with Unum's Group Income Protection Return to Work service last year.
The insurer said that 1659 people used the return to work service; an increase from 1470 the previous year, and 1040 returned to work, up from 1003 in 2015.
The statement summarises information on everyone with Group Income Protection from Unum who used its Return to Work Service between 1 January and 31 December 2016.
Of those returning to work, a third (34%) had a mental health problem and almost 1 in 5 (19%) had a musculoskeletal problem.
In addition, 9% had or were recovering from cancer, 6% had a problem related to their nervous system and 5% had a condition affecting their blood or circulation. LJust over a quarter (27%) had one of many less common health problems.
More than a third (36%) of those using the service to return to work were under 40 years old and a similar share (34%) were over 50.
Half (48%) of those returning to work were women, despite evidence Unum published earlier this year that only 37% of those with group income protection from the insurer were female.
Improving support for people with musculoskeletal problems was identified as a top priority in a recent government Green Paper on work and health.
This year's statement includes a focus on the 202 people with musculoskeletal conditions Unum helped back to work last year.
Surprisingly, 32% of those workers were under 40 years of age, Unum said.
Half (52%) of those returning to work were female and 36% were aged 50 and over. Unum provided return to work support to each person for an average of 97 days.
While more people used the service this year and more got back to work, the proportion of people returning to work fell slightly from 68% in 2015.
This reflected an increase in the number of people agreeing another outcome with Unum and their employer, such as a financial settlement, rather than returning to work.
The proportion of people agreeing such an outcome increased from 17% in 2015 to 26% last year. Meanwhile the share of those found unable to work fell to 11%, down from 15% in 2015.
John Letizia, Unum's Head of Public Affairs and CSR, said: "More than half of disabled people who are out of work have a musculoskeletal or mental health problem.
"The government has made improving their employment outcomes a top priority. Two thirds of people with a musculoskeletal problem who use our rehabilitation service return to work.
"We also provide services and advice to help employers prevent sickness absence. For example, line managers can use our free online modules to learn how to support employees with musculoskeletal problems more effectively."
He concluded:"The statement shows once again how increasing the number of employees with Group Income Protection could prevent many from falling out of work altogether. That is why we are calling for a temporary tax incentive for employers to invest in Group Income Protection for more of the UK workforce.
"The industry, employers and the government need to take bold action to ensure everyone gets effective, early support to stay in work when they are unwell. We believe that encouraging more Group Income Protection is by far the best option on the table".
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