By Francesca James

Workers in the south receive better health and wellbeing care from their employers than those in the north, new research has revealed.

More than half of workers in the north (54 per cent) claim their employers make no provisions to look after their health and wellbeing, compared with just 46 per cent in the south, according to an independent study by global research consultancy TNS.

The study, commissioned by employee health risk management specialist PMI Health Group, follows recent revelations from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that show a clear north-south divide in estimates of life expectancy1.

“These geographical inequalities in healthcare provision are surprising but there may be a number of reasons for it — from local differences in business cultural legacies to regional variations in concentrations of large corporate companies, which may have more resources for health initiatives,” said PMI Health Group director Mike Blake.

“However the onus is on all companies, regardless of size or industry type, to look after the health of their staff, particularly with increasing restrictions in NHS provision. Initiatives needn’t be expensive and the returns on investment can be substantial with sickness absence costing UK business around £32 billion a year.”

Of those workers that receive health and wellbeing benefits, 28 per cent in the south have access to on-site gyms, compared with just 11 per cent in the north.

More than a third (36 per cent) of employees in the south are offered cycle to work schemes by their companies, compared to 23 per cent in the north. In addition, back pain support is provided to 21 per cent of workers in the south, in contrast to just 14 per cent in the north.

Less surprisingly, the study revealed health and wellbeing benefits are more readily offered to employees that earn more than the UK average salary2 — with 44 per cent of these workers benefitting from healthcare provision, compared to 28 per cent that earn less than the average salary.