Legal & General (L&G) and Cigna Healthcare have launched a strategic alliance to manage group income protection and staff absence costs.

Cigna's Independent Absence Management is to be offered along-side L&G's group income protection scheme.

Under the scheme, employees who have been away for five days will be referred to a nurse who will identify any action that needs to be taken to help the employee return to work.

Those who have had an accident at work will be referred to a nurse immediately.

L&G director of group risk, Jane Dale, said: “If you don't intervene quite early, often it becomes very difficult for a person to go back to work.”

Cigna Healthcare director Sharon Lyons said the process benefitted both employers and employees by reducing costs for employers and getting speedy treatment for employees.

“It is not designed to frogmarch an employee back to work – it is to make them fit and healthy and ready to return to work,” she said.