Removing taxes on workplace health support could help to prevent as many as 3.8 million sickness absence days per year and save the UK economy £443 million, a leading private healthcare firm has said.
In a report, Getting Britain fit for the recovery, Bupa also argued that such a move could help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) achieve productivity gains of £282 million per year, with larger firms seeing gains of £160 million.
The report calculated that tax receipts from employers' expenditure on workplace health support for those employees who were basic-rate taxpayers would total £150 million.
By removing all taxes on workplace health support, an additional 2.3 million workers would be able to receive workplace health support, meaning sickness absence would likely reduce by 3.8 million days per year, it said. In addition, increased investment in workplace health services would potentially create a more engaged and productive workforce.
The research also attempted to get a snapshot of the current appetite for OH in the workplace.
Of the 500 businesses that were questioned, just under half did not provide any workplace health support to their employees, with SMEs being least likely to provide these services.
Yet more than half of those that did not provide such support said they would seriously consider doing so if all workplace health taxes were removed.
Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director of Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: "We are calling on the Government to recognise that increasing access to early treatment and preventative healthcare is a clear win-win for government and businesses, and to remove tax disincentives that are acting as a barrier for employers."