National Account Manager for Protection Craig Bryce looks at the latest news regarding mental health and highlights how you can help your clients stay protected against one of the most common workplace absences in the UK.

Critical Illness Cover and Life Insurance are vital to ensure your client and their family are covered against worst-case scenarios. But what about the most common situations that clients can find themselves in?

This is where income protection comes in. It normally pays up to 60% of their income and protects against long term absence. It serves as daily peace of mind should they need time off work, your client won’t have the added stress of worrying about covering the bills.

How common is absence for mental health?

According to ECIS data, absences for mental health are as common as absences for colds and bugs. This makes mental health now one of the top three reasons for employee absence, with musculoskeletal conditions and general sickness.

The problem doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon either, with a recent NHS report showing that nearly a third of ‘fit for work’ notes issued by GPs are for psychiatric problems. This has now made it the most common reason for ‘fit for work’ notes to be issued, ahead of musculoskeletal diseases.

How can your client cover themselves?

Fortunately, most income protection providers pay out for absence for mental health, which unless they have budget income protection, will pay out for every occasion they are absent from work after the deferred period has elapsed.

It is also important to ensure that should your client be absent from work for mental health problems, they don’t have the added stress and anxiety of not working and not being paid. This can exacerbate the problem itself and extend their absence from work.

What if they already have cover?

A good protection menu plan that covers all the scenarios that might make your client vulnerable to financial shocks is always recommended. After all, serious illness and injury are all too common reasons to be absent long term from work, which will not be covered by Life and Critical Illness cover.

Right now, absences from work for mental health are becoming more long term, with one in five psychiatric ‘fit for work’ notes issued for periods of over 12 weeks. This means that the employer being able to cover your client during the period of absence becomes less likely, which makes income protection even more important.

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