In the last full year, seven out of ten people who were unable to work due to stress returned to work before the end of the deferred period, analysis of Legal & General internal claims data has revealed.

This means that typically staff are returning in under six months. This figure represents a huge increase, as fewer than four out of ten were able to return to work within the same period five years ago.

Stress is Britain’s leading cause of long term absence, according to a recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey. Its absence management annual survey report recently highlighted that for non-manual workers, stress is the second biggest cause of short-term absence and the leading cause of long-term absence.

The research follows the Government’s recent Sickness Absence Review, which recognised the impact that early intervention can have in reducing absence. The Government is currently considering the recommendations of the Review, which includes offering tax relief for products that provide employees with specialist health intervention.

Legal & General says its Group Income Protection, Workplace Recovery, has been very successful at reducing absence, partly due to its specialist early intervention. Where appropriate, Workplace Recovery offers up to 24 sessions of vocationally based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) from CBT Services Limited, which has aided its success in returning seven out of ten stress claimants back to work.

Commenting on the increase in those returning to work, Diane Buckley, Managing Director of Group Protection at Legal & General, said:

“Stress is one of the leading causes of long-term absence so employers should ensure that good quality support is available in the workplace.”