In a world of increasing pressure in the workplace, more employees are taking time off to deal with stress and illness. Health screening can therefore be a useful tool for employers to gain an insight into employees’ current wellbeing and to promote health awareness in the workforce.
Health screening can be offered as part of a flexible benefits scheme, free with an employer’s medical insurance scheme or as standalone benefit.
Online health risk assessments are offered free through some medical insurance schemes and health cash plans, and the NHS recently rolled out free health checks for people aged 40-74 in England.
Health checks and screenings are aimed at reducing the risk of staff developing illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, and include recommendations for lifestyle changes.
Health screening can be provided onsite or at the provider’s premises. Screening can help to identify potential health problems at an early stage, so steps can be taken to reduce the problem. This makes it a valued perk among staff.
Although the results of a health screening are confidential, general anonymised feedback can enable employers to shape health initiatives. For example, if a health screening reveals that a high percentage of employees are overweight and have poor diets, an employer could help turn this around by introducing a healthy-eating campaign.
The opportunity for early intervention also has benefits for employers. Having a healthier workforce improves productivity and engagement and helps to reduce health insurance claims.
The cost of health screening depends on how comprehensive it is. Some providers offer assessments starting at as little as £35 per employee, but these tend to cover only basic checks, such as height and weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Comprehensive assessments will include more in-depth and tailored tests, such as a prostate check for men aged over 50 and a cervical smear and breast examination for women, can cost between £250 and £500. Higher-end health screenings, such as those often provided to executives, can cost £600-plus.
Health screening also has tax advantages. As long as employees receive no more than one screening a year, it is not classed as a benefit in kind and there is no tax or national insurance liability.
Some plans include a contribution from the employee towards health screening, and employers can help their staff with the cost of screenings by offering a health cash plan. The downside of this is that there may be a low take-up rate.
In the past, many employers would only provide health screening to their senior executives, but some are now seeing the benefits of providing health checks or screening for the majority of their workforce. This is made possible through cheaper options, for example where only blood pressure and glucose testing for diabetes is done. The employee will receive a report and be given advice.
Employers must also consider how often to provide screenings. Some like to offer an annual test to employees considered more at risk, such as those aged over 40 or to senior executives, but most employers will make a screening available every two years or so.
- 28% of employers believe it is their duty of care to encourage staff to have health screenings.
- 23% of employers offer their staff health screening, similar to the 26% that did so in 2002.
Source: Employee Benefits Healthcare research 2013 (June 2013)
What is health screening?
Corporate health screening is a range of assessments that can help identify health risks. This can help to safeguard employees’ health by identifying potential health issues that may benefit from early intervention.
Where can employers get more information?
Information on screening and tests that are recommended for employees at different ages can be found on the NHS website.
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