Jelf Employee Benefits has highlighted that six in seven employees remaining uncovered by group income protection as a concern as absence moves up the political agenda.
Jelf believes figures from Unum which shows only one in seven employees is covered by group income protection are of particular concern as the benefit of early intervention and rehabilitation is not being made available to the majority of employees.
The benefits consultancy believes, with the increasing emphasis on employers to understand, and address, reasons for absence, income protection should be seen as a core benefit.
Chris Ford, managing director, corporate and individual protection for Jelf Employee Benefits said: "Out of the traditional employee benefits that are offered, with only one in ten employers offering group income protection in the first place, it labours under a legacy view as an expensive luxury benefit, which simply isn't the case, and used effectively, these costs can be offset through improvements in absence costs.
"It's not untypical for us to see significant reductions in duration and/or cost of absence when GIP policies are fully utilised."
Jelf believes that now is the time to get group income protection onto the agenda, pointing to initiatives that bring absence management sharply into focus: Welfare reform, which puts the onus of responsibility for protection on the employer; and The Government's Health and Work Service (HWS) initiative which calls for employers to assess absent employees after four weeks and to pro-actively support return-to-work opportunities.