Media - Press Releases

Unum proves Group Income Protection is shaking off ‘exclusive’ image

20th January 2017

  • New data reveals that over half (55%) of employees with Group Income Protection (GIP) now earn less than £40,000
  • Over a fifth (22%) of employees with GIP work for small and medium sized organisations (SMEs) with fewer than 250 staff
  • With just 37% of women covered by GIP from their employer, findings highlight a gender benefit gap

New data from employee benefits specialist Unum has revealed that most employees (55%) with Group Income Protection1 (GIP) now earn less than £40,000. It also showed that more than a fifth (22%) of employees with GIP work for small and medium sized organisations (SMEs) with fewer than 250 staff.

The new data analyses the 780,582 employees from 6,600 organisations that Unum provided GIP to on 31 October 2016.

The data comes as the government is consulting on how employers can help more people with long term health problems to stay in work2. Its Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability states that the government believes GIP “has a much bigger role to play” in enabling employers to invest in staff wellbeing and prevent those with health problems from falling out of work unnecessarily.

GIP no longer just a benefit for executives

Interestingly, the new data disproves the outdated idea that employers only provide GIP to high earning executives and their most senior employees. In fact, 17% of those with GIP from Unum earn under £20,000, 22% earn £20-£30,000 and 16% earn £30-40,000. Almost half (49%) of those with GIP are under 40 years old.

Many SMEs are protecting their staff

There is evidence that recent innovations to tailor GIP to the needs of SMEs are paying off. Currently, Unum covers 171,728 people who work for SMEs and 11% of those work for organisations with 100-249 employees, 9% for organisations with 20-99 employees and 2% for the smallest employers that have fewer than 20 staff.

The data shows that SMEs cover broadly the same type of employees as larger employers. Both big and small employers cover around the same proportion of female workers, younger workers and staff on lower salaries.

Women are under protected - a gender benefits gap?

From April 2017, large employers will have to publically report their gender pay gap3. However, Unum’s data suggests there may also be a gender benefits gap. Only 37% of those with GIP from their employer are women, versus 63% of men.

This is despite Unum data proving women are more likely to acquire a disability and to use their GIP cover. Unum’s 2016 Claims Statement showed women made 44% of GIP claims and more than half of all cancer claims4.

GIP supports an ageing workforce

Unum’s coverage data also shows how GIP benefits older workers and the organisations that employ them.

Almost a quarter (24%) of those with GIP are aged 50 and over, but Unum’s 2016 Claims Statement showed they made half of all new claims. Over 50s are also more likely to use the Return to Work service – 34% of those who used rehabilitation to return to work were 50 and over, according to Unum’s 2016 Return to Work Statement5.

GIP is the right solution for employers and the government

Unum’s HR Director Liz Walker, highlighted the diversity of employers and employees with GIP. “Serious health conditions like cancer and mental health problems can affect anyone, from the top boss to the shop floor. No matter what you earn or how small the company you work for, when you face a serious health problem you need your employer to do the right things. This new data shows that the smart, caring employers who invest in GIP are protecting more and more of their staff and they come in all shapes and sizes.”

Head of Public Affairs and CSR, John Letizia, noted that with government support, GIP could help many more people with long term health problems to keep their jobs. “GIP helps disabled people reach their potential wherever they work and helps build a fairer economy for everyone. 83% of disabled people acquire their disability during their working life6 and the government wants employers to support as many as possible to stay in work. This data proves GIP already helps employers of all sizes do just that. So to increase coverage, Unum is calling for a temporary tax break for employers who invest in GIP”.



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Notes to editors:

  1. Group Income Protection is a benefit employers purchase for their staff. It provides a financial benefit and rehabilitation support if an employee is unable to work because of illness or injury.
  2. The government has published a Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability seeking views on “what it will take to transform employment prospects for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions”. The Green Paper is available here:
  3. The government is introducing regulations that will oblige all organisations with more than 249 employees to publish data on their gender pay gap from April 2017. More information is available here:
  4. Unum’s 2016 Claims Statement summarised data on all the new GIP claims Unum paid to people who became too ill to work between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016. At the time, only 36% of those with GIP from Unum were female but they made 44% of all claims and 51% of cancer claims. The Claims Statement is available here:
  5. Unum’s 2016 Return to Work Statement summarised data on everyone with GIP who used Unum’s return to work service in 2015. It is available here:
  6. DWP (2015) How your business can benefit from being disability confident. Available at
  7. Due to rounding, some percentages in the infographic do not add up to 100%. In some instances, Unum does not know how many employees its clients have. In the chart entitled “What size employers do they work for?”, the percentage split is given for all Unum clients with a known number of employees. We assume that our block of clients with unknown company size is split in the same proportions. So, for example, for the group where we know the employer size, 11% of employees with GIP work for organisations with 100-249 staff. Therefore we assign 11% of the unknown group to employers that size too. This allows us to estimate how many people with GIP work for SMEs.