Paul Avis of Canada Life talks about the importance of early intervention and effective rehabilitation during absence.


Group Income Protection (GIP) offers benefits for both the policyholder’s organisation and its employees. It provides a level of salary continuation when an employee is absent because of ill health or disablement. But the added benefit most aligned to financial protection is access to rehabilitation services.

The cost of sickness absence is often high up the list of organisational concerns for an employer, so early involvement in absence to maximise rehabilitation support is sensible and prudent. Although GIP benefits become payable during long term disability, the payment only starts after the employee has been unable to work for a set period, commonly 28 weeks. For the first 28 weeks, the employer funds Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), so managing sickness absence through early engagement makes perfect sense from a financial perspective.

Employers may not have the resources or expertise to manage the absence effectively, so the GIP provider is well placed to support the early investigation of absence, helping the employer and their employee at the crucial early stages of absence.

Canada Life’s Early Intervention Service (EIS) focuses on the fact that every absence can have a huge impact on the workplace. It also recognises the importance of supporting employees as early as possible. This support includes unlimited access to our in-house, medically qualified EIS Nurses, with support available from day one of the employee’s absence. This is known as early intervention. The aim is to manage employee absence as early as possible and find the best outcome for all involved, which in many cases is a speedy return to work.

There is strong evidence to suggest that work is good for physical and mental well-being and the reality is that many absent employees want to return to work. Unfortunately, it is not always an easy journey to make. The EIS Nurse works with the employee, their medical specialist and their employer to facilitate a successful return. Where possible, they create an achievable return to work plan, endorsed by the employee’s GP, and provide support for all parties throughout the process. This can be a lifeline for individuals struggling to cope.

From the employer’s perspective, there is a financial cost to sickness absence - not just through Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) but through the loss of productive, often experienced, employees. The longer the absence continues, the greater the financial cost and the more difficult it can be to rehabilitate the employee. Employers have clear responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to make every reasonable effort to rehabilitate absent staff, when a return to work is possible. However, providing the right help can be a daunting task for any employer, which is exactly where our EIS Nurses can help.

Where an organisation embraces our EIS and fully engages with us, we have found that we can make a real difference.

In 2015, almost 50% of our early intervention referrals resulted in a return to work before claim payment. Where early intervention wasn’t used, only 6% of employees were able to make a return to work in the same period. This clearly demonstrates the value early intervention can bring to an organisation.

The service offered is tailored to suit the needs of the employer and each absent employee is treated as an individual, so the support offered is right for their situation. Not only do our EIS Nurses support return to work plans, but they can also offer support and guidance to employers in terms of advice on absence duration, recommended workplace adaptations and other employee benefits the employee could utilise. This sort of help should be considered when choosing a Group Income Protection insurer.

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