Employers have called on the Government to clarify exactly what it intends to introduce in the way of tax breaks on healthcare plans.
The Government has indicated that it wishes to provide greater incentives to encourage employers to invest in health and wellbeing, but has not yet outlined exactly what these might be.
At a Jelf Employee Benefits (JEB) seminar in April, 168 employers were surveyed and 82% of these wanted a tax-break structure that benefited both employer and employee.
Six employers out of 10 believed tax breaks on healthcare plans to be the most important recommendation in the Government's recent sickness absence review, while more than one-fifth wanted to see a further review of the fit note.
Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at JEB, said: "The intention of the [sickness absence review] 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."
In a separate development, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has confirmed it will refer the market for private healthcare services in the UK to the Competition Commission for further investigation.
"Having considered the responses submitted during the consultation process, the OFT continues to hold the view that the private healthcare market could work better for patients, and that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that there are features of the market that prevent, restrict or distort competition," it said.