Increasing numbers of employers are taking out health insurance for their staff, an industry practitioner has suggested.

According to Jonathan French, spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), in the UK’s increasingly competitive labour market, more businesses are using private medical cover as a perk to recruit and retain workers.

He went on to say that firms are also recognising the benefits of purchasing health insurance for staff because it enables employees to return to work more quickly following spells of illness, something which is good for both workers and companies.

The expert commented: "So it’s an important thing for [employers] from a productivity point of view and that, of course, has knock-on benefits to the overall productivity of the economy."

According to figures produced by the ABI, a total of 6,004,000 people were covered by either personal or corporate private medical insurance in 2007.