The Association of British Insurers has called on the government to introduce tax incentives to improve the poor record of UK employers on rehabilitating staff who are injured or fall ill in the workplace.
The recent CBI/AXA annual absence survey revealed that 28 million working days were lost to work-related illness last year, costing businesses £13bn. In addition, 2.7 million people claimed incapacity benefit, costing the taxpayer £7bn a year.
Yet only 12% of UK employers provide any form of rehabilitation programmes for their employees.
As part of a package of measures to boost care for ill and injured workers, the insurers are calling for a new tax credit to reward employers who provide rehabilitation programmes.
It also said employers that provide rehabilitation benefits should not have it deemed a tax benefit for employees and should qualify for tax relief for employers.
Justin Jacobs, the association’s head of liability and motor insurance, said: “The UK has one of the worst records on treating workplace ill health of all industrialised nations. The ill, the injured, their families and businesses all pay the price through financial strain and lost productivity.
“Insurers are doing much to develop rehabilitation products, but we need to encourage greater employer take-up, and get the government to take the lead in promoting greater rehabilitation”.