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Government urged to offer ‘back to work’ incentives

Investment in health could reduce staff absence

Employers need incentives to invest in health services that reduce absence from work, new research suggests.

Commissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare, a report, entitled Sharing the Costs – Reaping the benefits – Incentivising return to work initiatives, recommends the introduction of fiscal incentives, such as tax credits, to encourage employer intervention in staff health issues.

It is claimed that these incentives could help lower the £13.2 billion that absence from work costs the UK economy each year.

Investment in services that promote recovery, such as physiotherapy and psychological therapies, is recommended to reduce the amount of money employers must dish out for sick pay, overtime and labour replacement costs.

The report said: “Musculoskeletal disease (MSDs) and mental illness are examples of conditions that often develop and become more serious over time. Research indicates that early intervention can help to reduce the progression of these conditions, speed return to work and reduce long-term costs.”

The current lack of such initiatives is blamed on market failure, where circumstances such as the possibility of employees leaving a job once a company has invested in their health, stand in the way.

The report concluded that government incentives are required to fix this market failure, by encouraging employers to invest in rehabilitation services.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2006

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