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Autumn Statement, a missed opportunity to tap into employee benefits

The Autumn Statement feels like a missed opportunity by the Government from an employee benefits perspective. There was a lot of focus on tax breaks and NI reductions which will no doubt be welcomed by employers and employees alike. 

The Autumn Statement feels like a missed opportunity by the Government from an employee benefits perspective. There was a lot of focus on tax breaks and NI reductions which will no doubt be welcomed by employers and employees alike. However, the government’s “Back To Work Plan” key points were too focused on sick and disabled adults already out of work, rather than how to prevent the illnesses in the first place. It also omits to mention how employers can manage absent employees more effectively to avoid losing them from the workforce.

For example, the government rightly recognises that mental health is a real issue and it is investing nearly £800 million in this area over the next five years. It would have been great to see some measures pointing towards the fantastic services that already exist and that many forward-thinking employers already provide.

Mental health counselling, employee assistance programmes and cognitive behaviour therapy are all services that employers can quickly and cheaply provide for their staff via their employee benefits programme. How good would it have been if the government had introduced tax breaks or subsidies on these services so that employers could support their workers during illnesses or, even better, help to prevent their illness in the first place?

Perhaps some of those employers who find themselves with extra cash from the tax and NI breaks will consider reinvesting that cash in their employees’ health and show the government the power of tackling health and absence management issues at source.

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