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Unum calls for government to introduce temporary tax break for employers that buy Group Income Protection to help more people with health problems to stay in work

14th February 2017

  • Unum has responded to the government’s Green Paper consultation on work, health and disability calling for a new financial incentive for employers to invest in Group Income Protection (GIP).
  • The tax incentive would lead to a significant increase in GIP coverage helping people with long term health problems to stay in work, boost productivity and benefit taxpayers.
  • Unum also supports the government’s proposal to improve sickness certification and the use of NHS Fit Notes.

The UK’s leading provider of GIP, Unum, has recommended the government introduce a temporary tax incentive for employers that buy GIP to improve the working lives of people with disabilities and long term health problems.

The government’s Green Paper on work, health and disability

Unum made the recommendation in its response the government’s consultation on Improving lives, the Green Paper on work, health and disability published jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Health1.

The Green Paper aims to “to transform employment prospects for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions”2. It states that the government thinks “Group Income Protection insurance policies have a much greater role to play in supporting employers”1 and considers how to increase the number of employees with GIP in large and small organisations.

Unum’s call for a tax incentive to boost GIP coverage

Unum has welcomed the government’s recognition that action to increase the number of employers and employees with GIP would improve employment outcomes. To bring about a step change in GIP coverage, Unum is recommending the government take bold, ambitious action by introducing a temporary reduction in the national insurance contributions of employers that provide GIP. Unum proposes a reduction of £30 per employee covered, which is around 10 to 20 per cent of the cost of a typical GIP policy.

Employers of all sizes already use GIP to enable employees with health problems to stay in work. Seven out of ten employees with serious health problems who use Unum’s Return to Work service get back to work3. More than half (55%) of employees with GIP from Unum earn under £40,000 and more than a fifth (22%) work for small and medium sized organisations (organisations with fewer than 250 employees)4. A tax incentive would encourage employers to extend GIP to more employees so many more get the support they need to stay in work.

Improving information for employers and sickness certification

Unum has also supported proposals in the Green Paper to increase the information employers have on the business benefits of GIP and on how to manage sickness absence effectively. Unum also asked the government to explore new obligations on employers to better support staff with long term health problems.

The Green Paper identifies the need to review how Fit Notes are used by medical professionals, employees and employers to ensure people get the right support to return to work wherever possible. Unum has supported this action as it believes problems with the Fit Note contribute to unhealthily long absences and people falling out of work avoidably.

Commenting on Unum’s response to the Green Paper, John Letizia, Head of Public Affairs and CSR, said:

“Unum fully supports the government’s vision of “a society where everyone is ambitious for disabled people and those with long term health conditions”1 and its goal of halving the disability employment gap. Employers have a vital role to play and the government is right to recognise how effective Group Income Protection is in helping them look after staff and manage sickness absence. An ambitious vision needs bold reforms and a temporary tax break for employers buying Group Income Protection is the best way to quickly boost coverage and improve employment outcomes while also benefiting taxpayers”.

-ENDS-

  1. Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Health (2016) Work, health and disability green paper: improving lives. Available via: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564038/work-and-health-green-paper-improving-lives.pdf 
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives 
  3. 7 in 10 people return to work with Unum's rehab service, http://www.unum.co.uk/media/7-in-10-people-return-to-work-with-rehab-service-from-unum 
  4. Unum proves Group Income Protection is shaking off ‘exclusive’ image http://www.unum.co.uk/media/unum-proves-group-income-protection-is-shaking-off-exclusive-image 
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