Disability Awareness – How can we support your business?

02 Dec 2022

International Day of Persons with Disabilities was founded to promote the understanding of disability issues, and the benefits of integrating persons with disabilities into every aspect of life. This year they are focussing on transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world. In employment, sport and reducing inequality.

The UK group risk industry paved the way for recognition in the bio-psycho-social model and how we can adapt our environments to focus on capability rather than inability. It’s something that, as a nation, we can be exceptionally proud of. As businesses we know that work offers people a sense of purpose and direction and is important in our overall mental wellbeing – especially those who are more at risk of social isolation.

In the recent budget, the government talked at length about the “economically inactive” – those who want to work but can’t through disability or sickness. In partnership with you, as businesses, we can help you to create real opportunities for people with disabilities. We spoke to Unum, one of the leading Income Protection providers in the UK, who see creating those opportunities as the heart of everything they do. Unum tell us below about their pillars of support and how utilising them could lead to better outcomes for both the employer and employee.

Unum’s three pillars of support

If we look at the definition of disability in the UK, it is where an individual has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse impact on their ability to do day-to-day activities. This includes all aspects of life from socialising, education, and the area we focus on at Unum: Work/employment. 

We look at Group Income Protection in 3 stages: Prevention. Intervention. Protection. All this with an emphasis on early support and intervention to help individuals successfully remain in work where possible.


Providing education and training on lifestyle and wellbeing management to employees through our U-First training program supports people living with long-term conditions. We also offer general advice to prevent burnout or musculoskeletal issues.

Meanwhile, Unum’s CPD-accredited On Course sessions are dedicated to upskilling line managers on the importance of taking a person-centric approach when supporting those living with disabilities or long-term conditions. Since 2018 we have trained more than 42,000 people across our workshops, with 90% of attendees saying the sessions were good or excellent.

During the latter half of 2022, we added two additional bespoke training sessions for line managers focused on neurodiversity and supporting staff experiencing menopause.


The comprehensive support our Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants (VRCs) provide starts from a full assessment of any challenges the individual living with a disability may be facing. The VRC will then work with the individual, their employer and any other third parties to support them remain in work (with adjustments if needed) or coordinate a successful and sustainable return to work plan if required. This might include recommendations on hours and tasks.

The VRC will often stay involved for up to 8 weeks (and in some cases longer) to ensure we support the individual and their employer to navigate all obstacles. We can refer into specialist services through our Help@hand[i] app if the individual requires mental health support or physiotherapy.

We also have access to specialised assessments such as ergonomic assessments and dyslexia vocational evaluations.  A testament to our customer focus is our outcomes in 2021, when 95% of cases referred to us were successfully returned to work or had another successful outcome.


Finally, when we think about Group Income Protection, we need to remember the policy has a benefit that pays out if needed. At Unum we put the customer at the centre of everything we do, including ensuring our claims model is flexible in its approach given someone could be temporarily or permanently impacted by disability. This is where we offer financial security and peace of mind for our customers.

With the International Day of Persons with Disabilities approaching on 3rd December, if you would like to discuss Income Protection as you feel it could support your business objectives or would like to review your current benefits package in more depth, or you feel Income Protection could support your business objectives, please get in touch with us at Wingate.

[i] Help@hand is a virtual, value-added benefit service which connects the employees of Unum customers to third party specialists who can help manage their health and wellbeing, and that of their family. Access to the service is facilitated by Unum at no cost to the Unum customer. Unum is not the provider of the service but can withdraw or change the service at any time. The service is entirely separate from any insurance policy provided by Unum and is subject to the terms and conditions of the relevant third-party specialists. There is no additional cost or increase in premium as a result of Unum making this benefit available.

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Employee Benefit Benchmarking Report 2022

Exclusively focused on UK organisations with employee headcounts of up to 1000, the data and conclusions shared in this report are directly relevant to companies of this size and profile.