Canada Life Group Insurance has launched a day one early intervention service (EIS) for employee absences caused by mental health issues for group income protection clients.
The paperless referral process for EIS allows employers to access case specific support the day the employee calls in sick.
Depression, stress and anxiety as well as musculoskeletal conditions are covered by the EIS scheme.
Canada Life has reported that 86% of EIS referrals do not result in a claim, while 80% of mental health claims lasted 7 months using EIS, compared to 2 years without.
The EIS has a dedicated telephone number staffed by in-house nurses, if the EIS nurse believes early intervention can help, they contact the employee to discuss their absence.
The EIS nurse then compiles a report for the employer with recommendations and support available, with consent gained directly by Canada Life from the employee.
Paul Avis, marketing director of Canada Life Group Insurance, said: "When we launched Early Intervention Services (EIS) for all in January 2014 it was with an eye on what was really needed to help facilitate an employee's return to work from day one.
"From our research, it was clear that the area where most employers struggled is in dealing with mental health or complex absences.
"As a result, we have enhanced the offer of EIS for all with a new service, specifically aimed at these complex absences and would urge every adviser and employer to take advantage of this free service.
"We've also developed a range of employer communications including desk drop cards, webcasts and flyers to help employers understand and use the service.
Avis added: "The benefits of EIS and support for complex conditions should be highly valued by employers.
"As well as helping to reduce occupational and statutory sick pay bills and helping to comply with the Equality Act (2010), employers should also benefit from a reduced incidence of claims, a shorter duration and higher acceptance rate.
"Hence the financial business case for referring employees early is compelling as both short term absence costs and sustainable, appropriate group income protection premiums are what we can evidence through getting in early."