Tax breaks for work health schemes welcomed

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The inclusion in the 2013 Budget of plans to include tax breaks for employers to run health initiatives that help encourage those on sick leave back to work has been welcomed by health and wellbeing experts. The Chancellor has announced that the Government would introduce a targeted tax relief, so amounts up to £500 paid by employers on recommended schemes are not treated as a taxable benefit in kind. The Government’s decision follows recommendations made in its report, ‘Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence’, released in January.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) which has urged George Osborne to remove tax disincentives on employer-provided therapies and vocational rehabilitation programmes said: “Removing tax disincentives and encouraging employers who want to do the right thing for their employees is a win-win situation for everyone. It’s good for employers and businesses, it’s good for workers and their families, and it’s good for the economy and society as a whole.”

Each year over 130 million working days are lost to sickness absence. The Government had commissioned Dame Carol Black and David Frost to conduct an independent review of sickness absence.

James Freeston, sales and marketing director at Axa PPP Healthcare, said: “We welcome the government’s decision to introduce targeted tax relief [of] up to £500 paid by employers for treatment of ill or injured workers, to speed their recovery back to health and back to work.

“It’s a big step in the right direction and shows the government’s commitment to the principle that, by and large, work is good for people, for their families, for business and for society.”