The government should prioritise tax breaks for employers, rather than employees, first, says Jelf Employee Benefits
Jelf Employee Benefits is calling on the government to prioritise tax breaks for employers that introduce healthcare plans.
The issue of tax breaks for healthcare plans was raised in the government’s Sickness Absence Review (SAR), but Jelf says the report’s recommendations in this respect were ambiguous and implied that employees are likely to be the main beneficiaries of any tax breaks.
In a poll of 168 employers, it found that 82% of firms believe both employee and employer should benefit if group healthcare is to be embedded into the workplace.
And Jelf says that while both tax breaks would be beneficial, it strongly believes that the employer tax break is the real key to universal healthcare coverage.
Steve Herbert (pictured), 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 firm’s research also reveals that employers believe tax breaks on healthcare plans to be the most important recommendation in the SAR, cited by 60% of respondents. The second most popular recommendation was a further review of the fit-note system, chosen by 21% of those asked.
Herbert added: “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.”