Professor Sayeed Khan: Should older workers get healthcare perks?

Given that we have a workforce in many sectors that is ageing, organisations are going to have more people with potentially chronic problems that need intervention, some of which will be surgical intervention, some of which medical. Given the state of the NHS, the likelihood of that intervention being done quickly is pretty slim.

So the simple answer to the question is: employers need to look seriously at their cost benefit in terms of whether they provide healthcare benefits, by looking at their age profile and gathering some information about the sort of thing people are off with, and particularly off with in the long term. If they are not off, what are the chronic conditions that are causing underperformance?

Do employers rely on paying on an ad-hoc basis, or pay for cover for everybody? If they have a lot of older workers, the cost of the premium will be significantly higher than if they have a younger workforce.

So my experience would say that if an employer does not have cover, when it comes to individuals who are identified as needing intervention, and if the NHS cannot do it quickly enough, then it will pay on an individual basis for intervention.

Try to keep the people who are well, well. Invest in those who are well: that is worthwhile.

You cannot look at these issues of healthcare benefits in isolation. You have got to look at the bigger picture, and the single most important message that comes out with older workers is flexibility of employment.

– Professor Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and special professor in occupational health at the University of Nottingham