Responding to industry calls that frequency of absence and the extent of long-term absence should feature within audited results, McKenzie told a conference in May that businesses already had “ample scope” to report on this issue.
McKenzie was speaking at a conference last month to launch this year’s Confederation of British Industry/Axa absence survey. The survey found that days lost to absence fell slightly last year, with employees taking an average of 6.7 days off each, compared with the seven days reported last year, at a cost to the economy of around and#163;20bn.
McKenzie said measuring the business benefit of investment in health and wellbeing needed to become “a central feature of discussion within boardrooms”.
Asked whether this meant the government was planning to make it mandatory for companies to report on such key indices, McKenzie argued that the mechanisms were already there.
“There is the facility for businesses to review this as part of their annual report, there is ample scope for companies to report on this issue. We need to encourage a change in attitude and philosophy right across the board,” he said.
McKenzie also revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions has been talking to the Treasury about the taxation of benefits such as health insurance and gym membership as a benefit in kind.
Stressing the complexity of the subject, McKenzie said: “On the issue about rehabilitation costs being treated as taxable benefits, I am keen to see if we can unlock something.”
The government had already been looking into the feasibility of piloting the Fit for Work service recommended by national director for health and work Dame Carol Black in her Working for a Healthier Tomorrow report earlier this year, despite not being expected to make a formal response until the summer, he added.