Sun Life Financial announces dynamic new service for salary continuance programs

TORONTO, April 13 2009 – Sun Life Financial is pleased to introduce EarlyRETURNS, an innovative suite of absence management services for plan sponsors with salary continuance plans. EarlyRETURNS offers a unique and flexible approach to absence management that combines Sun Life’s industry-leading case management with advisory services, a robust service provider network, and absence prevention strategies.

A 2007 Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey of leading providers showed that Sun Life’s short-term disability (STD) case management results are the best among those surveyed as measured by absence duration – a key metric when it comes to curbing costs.

“Our customers are telling us that, in today’s turbulent economy, they need their employees to be healthy, productive and fully engaged if their business is to succeed,” said Dave Jones, Vice-President, Market Development, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. “At the same time, chronic illness, mental health issues and unhealthy lifestyles are increasing the number and/or duration of employee absences from work. Managing those absences is becoming more complex for employers, especially in today’s climate. EarlyRETURNS’ holistic case management provides the right care at the right time to ensure that employees can return to health and to work quickly.”

In addition to case management, EarlyRETURNS offers four complementary services to help tackle specific absence challenges:

  • Return-to-Work Advisory Services allow plan sponsors who prefer to handle their own case management to consult with Sun Life experts on how best to return employees to work quickly and safely;
  • Service Provider Express gives plan sponsors access to Sun Life’s national network of health professionals who are specialists in their field. Chosen for their complementary philosophy, skills, and experience, they help Sun Life extend its reach to meet virtually any plan member’s needs;
  • Chronic Casual Absence Services assess situations involving high rates of chronic, cyclical or patterned absenteeism (where the plan member has not met the STD waiting period, and where plan member has identified that there is a health element);
  • Absence Prevention Strategies help tackle organizational issues that may be driving absenteeism.

Services are modular, so plan sponsors can choose the services that meet their specific needs.

There is abundant research that shows the tie between unhealthy employees, unhealthy workplaces, and increased disability absences. The same research shows that healthy work environments and healthy employees correlate to reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and customer satisfaction.

“It’s very clear that a healthier workplace and workforce will have fewer absences,” said Jones. “What’s unique about EarlyRETURNS is that we not only help plan sponsors bring employees back to work sooner, we also help them prevent absences in the first place by identifying and addressing the drivers of absenteeism in their organizations. EarlyRETURNS is about early results. We can prove it.”

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2008, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of CDN$381 billion.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF.