Media - Press Releases

Unum highlights important role of employee benefits in response to Prime Minister’s review of mental health in the workplace

18th October 2017

  • Unum responds to the Prime Minister’s review on mental health in the workplace
  • Unum shares how employee benefits, especially Group Income Protection, support mental health at work
  • Unum calls for government’s support in increasing the number of working people who have access to mental health support at work

The Prime Minister’s review on mental health in the workplace

In effort to transform mental health support, the Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a review in to mental health in the workplace. The Review is being led by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer CBE, the Chief Executive of Mind.

The role of employee benefits in improving mental health at work

Unum’s response highlights how employee benefits protect working people from money and mental health problems. It shows that money, mental health and company performance are closely linked:

  • Nine out of ten employers believe money worries affect employee performance1 and financial distress adds four per cent to the payroll costs of UK firms2.
  • 27 million working age people do not have enough savings to cope with a significant income shock, such as becoming too ill to work3.
  • Two thirds of problem debt cases are caused by those sudden income shocks4 and people with debt problems are twice as likely to develop major depression5
  • The challenge may be growing too – 50 per cent more working people report money worries now than in 20066

Group protection products, like Income Protection, Life and Critical Illness cover, provide financial security at the most difficult times, which can help prevent money worries from causing or aggravating mental health problems.

Group Income Protection (GIP) plays an especially important role in improving the mental wellbeing of working people. It alleviates potential money worries by paying a high percentage of a person’s salary if they become too ill to work. A fifth of people who make a Group Income Protection claim with Unum earn under £20,000 a year7.

The cover also provides early intervention, prevention, and rehabilitation services so people with mental health problems can successfully stay in or return to work, which is good their mental and financial wellbeing. In 2015-16, seven out of ten people with serious health problems who used Unum’s rehabilitation service successfully returned to work8.

Further, GIP and other group protection products give employees and line managers access to Employee Assistance Programmes that provide confidential emotional support for workers - an instrumental tool in safeguarding mental health. More than half the people who use Unum’s EAP are looking for help with mental or emotional problems9

These benefits recently led the charity and think tank the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to recommend employers invest in GIP10.

Unum’s recommendation for improving mental health in the workplace

John Letizia, Head of Public Affairs and CSR at Unum, said:

“The government rightly recognises the important links between mental wellbeing, work, financial resilience and the economy. By choosing the right employee benefits, employers can protect their staff from mental health and money worries, reduce sickness absence and improve performance. We’re calling on the government to do their part by rewarding small and medium-sized employers that invest in group income protection with a tax break and helping everyone access better information on protection products”.

To read Unum’s full response, click here.


Notes to editors:

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1 Financial Advice Working Group (2017) Financial Well-being in the Workplace: A Way Forward
2 Financial Advice Working Group (2017) Financial Well-being in the Workplace: A Way Forward
3 Money Advice Service (2015) Financial Capability Strategy for the UK
4 FCA (2015) Occasional paper no.8: consumer vulnerability
5 Skapinakis P et al (2006) Socio-economic position and common mental disorders: Longitudinal study in the general population in the UK
6 British Journal of Psychiatry 2006; 189: 109-17.Financial Advice Working Group (2017) Financial Well-being in the Workplace: A Way Forward
7 Unum (2017) Gender and age differences revealed in Unum’s annual claims statement
8 This figure combines data from Unum (2016) 7 in 10 people return to work with Unum's rehab service and Unum (2017) Unum helps more people back to work, new Return to Work statement shows
9 Unpublished Unum data
10 Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (2017) Overstretched, overdrawn, underserved