Improving health and wellbeing through pensions auto-enrolment

As the auto-enrolment revolution is rolled out to companies with between 50 and 249 people, employers will be grappling with the new rules and requirements. Even though introducing the new regime can be time consuming, many employers are regarding it as an opportunity to review their benefits packages, with employee health and wellbeing regarded as a popular addition.

Evidence of this can be seen in research from Group Risk Development (GRiD). In its Group Risk Employer Research, which was conducted last October, it found that a quarter (24 per cent) were looking to increase their employee benefit spend. In addition, it found that a further 20 per cent of employers were looking to add a health and wellbeing benefit.

Health and wellbeing focus
As a result of the government’s Health, Work and Wellbeing initiative, employee health is a hot topic. Under the proposals, employers have a key role to play by creating healthier workplaces and helping employees stay healthy and in work.

There is government support for employers looking to achieve this. As well as introducing the Health and Work Service, which will provide occupational health advice and support where an employee is expected to be off work for at least four weeks, it is also offering tax relief of up to £500 a year per employee for medical treatment designed to help an employee return to work.

But while these government initiatives will be valuable when someone becomes unwell, a more proactive approach to keeping employees healthy could deliver much greater benefits to employers.

Healthcare benefits
Healthcare cash plans offer a range of benefits that can help an employer manage health and wellbeing in the workplace. As well as encouraging employees to look after their health, many of the benefits can help to reduce the risk of absence. For example, the regular check-ups available through the dental and optical benefits help to detect the early signs of serious health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and mouth cancer. Similarly, a course of physiotherapy could sort out a musculoskeletal problem quickly while a call to an employee assistance programme could prevent someone going off sick long term with a stress-related illness. A premium of just 85p per week enables an employee to enjoy annual benefits worth more than £700, including £50 towards dental, £50 for optical and £150 for physiotherapy.

Cost neutral
At the beginning of April, the government introduced the Employment Allowance, enabling an employer to cut its National Insurance bill by up to £2,000 a year. This can be a significant saving, especially for a small or medium-sized business.

This reduction in National Insurance contributions also enables an employer to invest in its business, with employee health a top priority. Given that an entry-level company-paid cash plan can cost less than £50 a year, an employer cutting its National Insurance bill by £2,000 would be able to provide cover for at least 40 employees without having to find any additional budget.

Alternatively for more information about our Health Cash Plans call us on 01270 588 555.

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