Unum has published its first annual claims statement, revealing a disparity between claims paid to male and female workers.
The figures, from claims paid to over 1,700 people from 1 August 2014 until 31 July 2015, show that less than two fifths of the employees covered by Unum are female, despite women making up 47 per cent of the workforce.
Men are one-and-a-half times more likely to have income protection than women, leaving thousands of females without protection and at risk should they fall ill and be unable to work.
John Letizia, head of public affairs at Unum, said: “A key concern for us is looking at why fewer women are accessing income protection and what we can do with employers, brokers and as an industry to ensure employers are offering equal benefits to all staff along with equal pay.”
Elsewhere, the figures found that cancer accounts for almost a third (29 per cent) of all long term sickness claims paid in the past year - more than all claims paid for musculoskeletal, nervous system and heart and circulation issues combined (24 per cent).
Mental health issues were the second biggest cause of long term absences, with 18 per cent of all protection claims paid by Unum being due to conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression.
While cancer and mental health issues were the main causes behind protection claims over the period, one in 10 claims were due to a musculoskeletal condition such as tendonitis or a back problem.
Conditions associated with the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and alzheimers, resulted in 7 per cent of claims, while heart and circulation related issues also led to 7 per cent of claims.
The percentage of people making an protection claim rose, somewhat unsurprisingly, with age, although nearly one in four claims was paid to an employee under 40.