The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to offer tax relief or other financial support for employers supporting their employees’ health.
CBI director-general Tony Danker (pictured) made the call at the trade body’s Future of Work Conference where he urged Hunt to extend the expenses and benefits system to employer health interventions for the most common health risks.
“On employee health, the chancellor can extend the expenses and benefits system to employer health interventions for the most common workforce health risks,” he told the audience.
“That’s mental health, as well as back, joint and muscle injuries. And government can also deliver on its pledge to make occupational health support easier for SMEs.”
The call echoed those from Axa Health and Bupa to provide tax relief for health insurance as the NHS continues to struggle with a growing backlog of patients.
Danker also highlighted that people’s wellness “is becoming an employer’s job”.
“This is what employees want and need. It’s what those who are at home and could be back, want and need,” Danker said.
“The country needs it too – to have business lead on preventing illness because the NHS just doesn’t have the bandwidth. There is nothing to fear here because we in business are good at this.”
Building the case for supporting workplace health, Danker said that more than a quarter of those who are now economically inactive were out of the workforce because of long-term sickness.
“That’s the biggest share – hovering around its highest point for 20 years,” he added.
Danker also pointed out that the cost of poor health to the UK economy was upwards of £180bn of GDP, with around 131 million working days still lost to ill-health annually.
“It’s estimated employer-led health interventions, to prevent common physical and mental health risks, could help save £60bn every year – reducing the impact of ill-health on the UK workforce by up to 20%,” Danker continued.