Need to know

19 May 2016

Three big health stories from recent weeks – and how they affect small businesses.

Strong evidence found for the health benefits of walking or cycling to work

Why has this been in the news recently?

A study of adults aged 40-69 published by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal found that those who cycle or walk to work have lower body fat percentage and BMI measures compared to adults who go by car, concluding that active travel can help prevent obesity in mid-life1.

What does this have to do with my business?

  • There is evidence to suggest that obesity is associated with a higher likelihood of worker illness absenteeism2.
  • In the March Budget, the government confirmed its intention for the Cycle to Work scheme to continue. So, as a small business owner, you and your employees can get a bike tax-free as part of a salary sacrifice scheme3. Companies researched by the Cycle to Work Alliance found that 97% of employers saw the scheme as crucial in helping to achieve a healthier workforce4. Use the Cycle Scheme’s calculator to see the difference it could make o your company and promote the scheme in Bike Week 2016 next month (11 to 16 June).

Late payments reach a two-year high, with one in six companies struggling to clear debts on time

Why has this been in the news recently?

A recent report by trade credit insurers Euler Hermes found that the number of overdue payments experienced by UK businesses reached a two-year high in the final quarter of 2015 – up 12 per cent from three months previously5. The report also found that the number of businesses struggling with overdue payments has increased from one in 10 in 2014, to one in six just a year later.

I run a small business: how does this affect me?

  • The report found that construction companies accounted for nearly one third (31%) of all payment incidents reported. Building, infrastructure and construction businesses make up almost one in five of all SMEs6 – so a lot of small business are affected by this.
  • Financial difficulties can of course lead to stress. Our Clinical Director for Wellbeing and Health Promotion, Jenny Leeser, has advised on why having a mental wellbeing strategy in place can help you and your employees deal with stress and other mental health issues at work. Find out more about mental wellbeing strategies.
  • Bupa has a number of resources that could help with any mental health issues you or your employees are facing including our Healthy Mind Directory.

Guidance for SMEs on health and safety has become a priority

Why has this been in the news recently?

The Health and Safety Executive has launched a health and safety system strategy called Helping Great Britain Work Well. It sets out six new priority themes, including ‘supporting small employers’7. The HSE says that too many SMEs are still unaware that straightforward advice and simple guidance is available to help them manage their health and safety responsibilities.

What exactly does that mean for me?

What's next?

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  1. Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: cross-sectional, observational evidence from UK Biobank, Flint, Ellen et al., The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology
  2. An assessment of the relationships between overweight, obesity, related chronic health conditions and worker absenteeism, Obes Res Clin Pract, 2014 Jan-Feb
  3. Budget 2016, HM Treasury (page 42)
  4. The healthy commute: What impact does cycling to work have on employee health? (page 4)
  5. Euler Hermes
  6. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Statistical Release, 14 October 2015
  7. Helping Great Britain work well 2016, Health and Safety Executive