Tax breaks for work health schemes welcomed

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s decision to give tax breaks on health initiatives at work has been welcomed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) as “good for employers and their employees”.

Prior to the presentation of the Budget, IOSH had urged George Osborne to remove tax disincentives on employer-provided therapies and vocational rehabilitation programs.

In his Budget speech, the Chancellor announced that the Government would introduce a targeted tax relief, so amounts up to £500 paid by employers on recommended schemes are not treated as a taxable benefit in kind.

According to the safety body, each year more than 130 million working days are lost to sickness absence. In February 2011, the Government commissioned Dame Carol Black and David Frost to conduct an independent review of sickness absence.

The Chancellor’s move on health programs at work follows recommendation made in the report, Health at Work — An Independent Review of Sickness Absence, which was released in January 2013.

Commenting on the news of the tax breaks for health initiatives, IOSH said, “IOSH has been calling for this for many years and a recent IOSH-commissioned survey of UK SMEs… showed considerable support for these sorts of Government incentive.”

IOSH described the concession as “an important start” which “recognises that removing tax disincentives could help encourage more employers to provide useful support for ill or injured employees”.

IOSH added, “Removing tax disincentives and encouraging employers who want to do the right thing for their employees is a win-win situation for everyone. It’s good for employers and businesses, it’s good for workers and their families, and it’s good for the economy and society as a whole.”

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