Leave requests and claims continue downward trend in late summer

Unum Leave and Claim Trends Report

September 23, 2020

Leave Trends report image
So far, so good.

Students across the nation started back to school in the second half of August. And several COVID-19 hotspots cropped up in various states as summer waned, especially around large college campuses.1,2 But our internal data shows that pandemic-related Short Term Disability (STD) claims and leave requests coming into the Unum Absence Management Center continued to slowly decline over the past month.

Pandemic-related claims and leave requests decreased from over 1,384 during the week of August 16 to 981 during the week of September 13. (An apparent uptick in mid-September is the result of lower claims/requests during the week of the Labor Day holiday.)

COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability volumes by month

Line graph showing overall leave requests and Short Term Disability volumes by month from March to September 2020.
Source: Unum internal Absence Management Center data, September 2020.

As a percentage of claims and leave requests, COVID-19-related activity also declined, from 15% the week of August 16 to 11% the week of September 13. 

COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims

 Bar chart showing overall leave requests and Short Term Disability claims by every other week from the week of March 15th to the week of September 13th. See table below for data 
Figure 2: COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims. See Reference material section for bi-weekly data. Source: Unum internal Absence Management Center data, September 2020.

As we have done since the pandemic first emerged, we are watching these numbers closely and taking action to stay ahead of developments. We continue to adjust our staffing and other resources to ensure that employees receive the prompt, expert service they need at claim time. 

“Experts are still warning of a fall surge in COVID-19 cases, so we continue to keep a close watch on this activity,” says Michelle Boucher, Unum SVP of Benefit Operations. “We retain the flexibility to shift resources as needed if claims and leave requests change direction, so we’re always positioned to provide the highest possible level of service to our clients and their employees.”

About the report

The Unum Leave and Claim Trends Report offers a line of sight into leave requests and Short Term Disability claims from our extensive customer base of employers across the United States.

The report, first released in May 2020, shows volumes and the proportion of COVID-19-related claims, helping employers, consultants and brokers understand trends and benchmarks as they navigate the ever-evolving COVID-19 landscape.

View previous Leave and Claim Trend Reports

1 The New York Times, Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count, Sept. 17, 2020.
2 The New York Times, How Colleges Became the New Covid Hot Spots, Sept. 11, 2020.

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Reference material

Figure 2: COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims [Back to figure]

  Non-COVID-19-related  COVID-19-related 
 Week of March 15  91% 9% 
 Week of March 22  79% 21% 
 Week of March 29  67% 33% 
 Week of April 5  67% 33% 
 Week of April 12  70% 30% 
 Week of April 19  70% 30% 
 Week of April 26  73% 27% 
 Week of May 3  76% 24% 
 Week of May 10  79% 21% 
 Week of May 17  78% 22% 
 Week of May 24  84% 16% 
 Week of May 31  82% 18% 
 Week of June 07  88% 12% 
 Week of June 14  87% 13% 
 Week of June 21  86% 14% 
 Week of June 28  85% 15% 
 Week of July 5  84% 16% 
 Week of July 12  82% 18% 
 Week of July 19  82% 18% 
 Week of July 26  84% 16% 
 Week of August 2  84% 16% 
 Week of August 9  85% 15% 
 Week of August 16  85% 15%
 Week of August 23  87% 13%
 Week of August 30  88% 12%
 Week of September 6  88% 12%
 Week of September 13  89% 11%