Detailed research*, revealed today by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, may suggest that wrongly perceived costs of corporate eyecare could be providing a barrier to some employers complying with health and safety regulations.
The research shows that well under half, only 44%, of employers surveyed provide Display Screen Equipment (DSE) eyecare to all screen users. This directly contravenes the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations, which state that all workers who regularly use DSE as a significant part of their normal work  must be provided with company-funded eyecare by their employer, if the worker requests it.
It is possible that the reticence in providing what is actually obligatory care, may be linked to foreseen costs. According to the survey, 42% of employers are currently paying over £50 for DSE eyecare for employees (to cover an eye examination and glasses, if required for solely DSE use). Nearly a quarter (24%) currently pay more than a staggering £75, and 22% of employers do not even know how much they are paying. In fact, DSE eyecare, covering not only the eyesight test and full eye examination, but also the glasses themselves (if required solely for VDU use) is available from just £17 per employee - the market rate paid by just 17% of employers.
These vast overpayments may be due, in part, to the administration method chosen by employers. 41% still allow their employees to visit the optician of their own choosing and reimburse the cost via expenses, potentially incurring far greater costs due to the wide variety of rates charged by different opticians.
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare explains: ‘The 40% of employers who administer their eyecare through voucher schemes are putting themselves better in control of the costs, with a view to ensuring the same level of care is received by all. A voucher scheme for eyecare is often the most cost- and time-effective option, and ensures there are no surprise expense claims for the employer to absorb. We would hope that knowing that they will be paying the same low cost for all DSE eyecare, and that employees will be receiving the same high levels of care and expertise, would make employers more likely to meet their eyecare obligations.’
*The research was conducted on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, by E-Media in June 2015. Using its online survey system, eMedia collated the responses of 125 heads of UK companies, regarding their approach to eyecare for all employees. Fuller results are included below:
Do you provide DSE (display screen equipment) eyecare for your employees?
Yes, to some screen users
Yes, to all screen users
Yes, to all, whether they regularly use screens or not
No, to none
How much do you currently pay for DSE eyecare for employees
(to cover an eye examination and glasses, if required to DSE use)?
Less than £10
£11 to £20
£21 to £50
£51 to £75
£76 to 100
More than £100
How do you currently provide eyecare for employees?
They visit their own choice of optician and the company reimburses the cost through expenses
The company provides a voucher scheme
The company has no eyecare policy
- Screen Users, as defined by Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations