Over €1m weekly paid out to those injured or unfit for work last year - Irish Life
Mental health and back pain the main reasons employees are unfit for work
Over 3,000 employees in Ireland received income protection payments worth a total of €57m from Irish Life last year.
The insurance and pensions firm, which paid more than €1m weekly to those injured or unfit for work in 2017, said that the data provides an insight into the health of our working population.
Income protection payments are made in direct correlation to the amount of the policy owner's salary at the time of claiming.
Back pain and mental health were the main reasons for the 3,323 individual claims, both accounting for one fifth (20pc) of total claims each, followed closely by cancer, which made up 17pc of all claims.
The data review also revealed that the average age for men who made claims was 49 years, compared to an average age of 46 for female claimants.
Claims made by men for mental health problems dropped from 4pc in the 2011-2014 period to 22pc over the 2015-2017 time span. Female claimants also made less claims in this category over the same period, falling from 22pc to 19pc.
Tony Lawless, Managing Director of Irish Life Corporate Business, said that these reductions could be a result of better awareness and acceptance of mental health problems in society - and by employers.
"With a global trend focusing on health and wellness, thankfully most people are more alert to early warning signs when it comes to their health," he said.
The number of cancer claims over the period 2015-2017 also fell from 19pc to 17pc, a trend attributed to continued improvements in early detection and treatment.
In contrast, claims for injuries jumped from 8pc to 11pc over the same period.
The Irish Life data also showed that, between 2015-2017, 2,474 people who claimed income protection had made sufficient recovery to return to work.
Mr Lawless said that the company supported claimants in this process, increasing the chances of people successfully getting back into employment.
"We’ve put lots of important supports in place to help employees get back on their feet when they are ready to re-join the workforce," he said.
While the biggest payout of income protection in 2017 by Irish Life amounted to €297,000, the average annual benefit paid was €22,659.