Ensuring Better Workplace Health

26 September 2016

The Five Year Forward View set out a clear direction for the future of the NHS, including the need to get serious about prevention and the role employers can play to help improve workplace health. The UK has an ageing population and a workforce with one of the longest working weeks in Western Europe. Technology also means that many people feel like it is always harder to turn off from work. As a result employers need to take more responsibility than ever before.

At Simplyhealth we want to ensure that there is a thoughtful considered debate regarding how to address these issues. Partnering with Reform and key individuals allows us to discuss the challenges faced by employers, the government and health and care specialists. We see our role as connecting those organisations and shaping a national conversation with them about how to improve workplace health and the role that businesses in the UK can play.

There are a growing number of working carers who are often unsupported by their employers. Those organisations that are doing a great job support their employees with guidance, helplines and time off to sort through their needs. We believe employers should be considering how they can support their employees’ health and wellness as part of their wider business strategy, rather than simply ticking the box and offering the minimum required.

Of course this means we also have to answer some of the bigger questions. For example, why can’t someone who has a need to care for a relative have a statutory right to a limited time off work to support them, similar to maternity and paternity leave?

And, how do you incentivise employers to do more when recent increases in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) increase the cost of health products for employers and consumers alike? Those people who are taking personal responsibility for their health and paying for products and services to fund their everyday health needs are being penalised by creeping IPT. IPT is designed as a tax on general insurance products; applying this to everyday health insurance products feels counterproductive and we strongly believe this needs to be addressed.

With a new government in place, now is the time to reshape the debate and consider how to help individuals take more responsibility for their own health and what role employers can play to support them, ultimately taking pressure off the state and public purse.

Sarah Ford, Director of Corporate Communications, Simplyhealth

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