Attendees at a recent healthcare seminar would like to see employers benefit from tax breaks on healthcare provisions. Image courtesy of: Vangelis Thomaidis/sxc.hu
At a recent Jelf Employee Benefits
seminar, employers called upon the Government to clarify the issue of tax breaks on healthcare plans, as referred to in the Sickness Absence Review
The report’s somewhat ambiguous recommendations implied that employees are likely to be the main beneficiaries for these tax breaks. However, Jelf Employee Benefits found that 82 percent of employers believe that they should benefit both employer and employee in order to embed group healthcare into the workplace.
Although both tax breaks would be beneficial, Jelf Employee Benefits strongly believes that the employer tax break is the real key to universal healthcare coverage. By reducing an employers’ liability, organisations are much more likely to invest and better communicate their healthcare offering to staff.
In short, targeting employers could engender an entire culture shift and encourage healthcare benefits to become more mainstream.
Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits said: “If this SAR recommendation is to have any teeth, we would encourage the Government to think about incentivising tax breaks for the employer first, and then the employee, and not the other way around.”
The Jelf Employee Benefits research also shows that employers believe tax breaks on healthcare plans to be the most important recommendation in the Sickness Absence Review (60 percent). The second most popular recommendation amongst employers was a further review of the fit-note system (21 percent). Only two percent of employers believe a job brokering service to be beneficial.
Herbert continued: “The intention of the SAR was to reduce sickness absence, and clearly private healthcare has an important role to play here. The employer tax incentive could be funded by the resulting lower usage of the NHS
by those covered.
“At a time when the NHS is undergoing significant reform, and charged with finding large cost savings, this must be worthy of consideration by central government as a method of both reducing NHS costs and long term sickness absence.”