Unum has published a new report making four key recommendations it believes the next government should urgently take up to improve the health and productivity of UK workers.
The recommendations are as follows:
- Introduce a temporary tax break for SMEs to invest in Group Income Protection (GIP) to improve people's work and health outcomes
- Deliver a coordinated plan to build the financial capability of working people so they can prepare for the risk of becoming too ill to work
- Trial a protection statement that shows working people the chance of becoming too ill to work, the income they could expect from their employer and the state, and signposts them to information on how to improve their financial resilience
- Create a robust and pragmatic regulatory environment that supports innovation and economic growth while protecting policy holders.
The report states that too few working people with long term health problems get the support they need from their employer to stay in work.
Ill health among working age people already costs the economy around £100 billion a year and by 2030 21 million working age people will have a long term health problem.
In its Improving Lives Green Paper, the government recognised that encouraging more employers to invest in GIP could reduce the number of people falling out of work for health reasons and help the economy.
As a result, Unum is repeating calls that the insurer previously made for the government to "introduce a temporary tax break for SMEs to invest in group income protection."
Unum was the first organization to put forward proposals for a tax break in its 2015 general election manifesto published at the end of October 2014.
Unum is also calling for "bold government action" to improve the financial capability of working families so they can prepare for the risk of becoming too ill to work.
Fifty per cent more working people report money worries than in 2006 and financial stress costs the UK £121 billion a year.
The company also recommends that the government "trials a protection statement that shows working people the chance of becoming too ill to work, the income they could expect from their employer and the state, and signposts them to information on how to improve their financial resilience."
Employees could access the statement online or it could be included with their P60 at the end of the tax year, Unum said.
In its final recommendation, Unum is urging the government to review how insurance companies are regulated.
Unum does not advocate the scrapping of Solvency II but urges the government to "create a robust and pragmatic regulatory environment that supports innovation and economic growth while protecting policy holders."
Peter O'Donnell, chief executive of Unum UK, said: "Whoever wins the election, the next government will continue to face the same big challenges as previous ones, namely a fast changing workforce with more long term health problems, low productivity, and low levels of financial education and resilience.
"We are setting out four key policy priorities that the next government should adopt so people get the support they need from their employers to stay in work and to prepare them in case they become unwell to work long term. "
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Q1 2017 saw a 12.9% increase in calls to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for Canada Life's Group Income Protection (GIP) customers compared with Q1 2016.