This year’s budget confirmed that the Government is to introduce initiatives to help companies tackle absence through long-term sickness. Every year 140 million working days are lost to sickness absence. The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that this costs Britain £15 billion in economic output.
In his budget speech on March 20, Chancellor George Osbourne announced the introduction of a number of initiatives designed to help businesses tackle absence management.
"Companies that look after their employees, and help them return to work after periods of sickness, will get new help through the tax system," he declared.
Mr Osbourne confirmed the introduction of a targeted tax relief to help businesses recoup some of the costs of back-to-work interventions recommended for absent employees.
Amounts up to £500 spent on health-related interventions recommended by the Government will not treated as a taxable benefit in kind. In addition, interventions put in place to return staff to work will not be subject to P11D assessment as a benefit-in-kind.
The Budget also confirmed that the Government is to fund a new occupational health service. The introduction of a new assessment and advisory service to address the sicknote culture was first announced in January 2013. The service, which aims to offer people the best possible support to get back to work quickly, is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of health and business experts Dame Carol Black and David Frost.
The new service will enable employers of all sizes to access expert advice to help them manage sickness absence in the workplace and is estimated to save businesses up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.
Read the Government response to 'Health at work - an independent review of sickness absence'.