Private medical insurance is fast catching up to pensions as the most desired employment benefit among UK workers, new research shows.

According to a survey by Bupa, 40 per cent of employees said they are most interested in receiving medical insurance from their employer, up from 38 per cent last year.

This compares to 49 per cent who put pensions at the top of their benefits wish list.

The research suggests that health is becoming an important consideration for employees, as free gym membership and health assessments also featured highly.

However, Ann Greenwood, director of business markets at Bupa Health Insurance, said that in order to boost the provision of health benefits, tax issues must be examined.

"Over half [of employers] would invest more in employee health and wellbeing if fiscal disincentives were removed," she insisted.

Meanwhile, recent research from Aon Consulting revealed that 40 per cent of employees have access to occupational life insurance, yet 77 per cent either believe their employer does not offer it or do not know for sure.