‘Stupid’ lack of tax breaks for occupational health slammed by expert

The lack of tax incentives for employers in the government’s drive for an occupational health revolution has been branded “stupid” by an expert.

Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser at manufacturers’ body the EEF, told Personnel Today that the government missed a trick last week in its response to Dame Carol Black’s report on wellbeing in the workplace.

Resisting calls for tax relief for firms using back-to-work services, the government put its faith in businesses seeing the financial benefits of a healthy workforce.

Khan said: “I am disappointed that there are no tax incentives. If we want to kickstart firms using occupational health services then we need to stop taxing them for doing so.

“Calling it a benefit in kind when an employer helps someone who fell off a ladder get back to work is stupid.”

Black called for radical changes in the way the UK treated sick people at work. Her report said: “Taxation can be a disincentive for smaller organisations to invest in health and wellbeing programmes. Employers also incur a tax liability if they pay for the rehabilitation of an injury incurred outside of work.”

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell said employer calls for tax incentives had been ignored as the government was not convinced that the cost would be justified by the reward.

What the government is doing

  • Replacing sicknotes with ‘fit notes’
  • Piloting ‘Fit For Work’ services to help people back to work
  • Launching a National Centre for Working-Age Health and Wellbeing
  • Introducing health, work and wellbeing co-ordinators
  • Piloting an occupational health helpline for smaller businesses
  • Creating a fund that will encourage local initiatives to improve workplace health and wellbeing
  • Reviewing the health of the NHS workforce

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