SMEs falling behind larger companies in eyecare compliance

Corporate news - PCDetailed research*, revealed today by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, may suggest that SMEs are failing to comply with HSE eyecare regulations and are less likely than larger companies to meet their obligations. Wrongly perceived costs of corporate eyecare could be providing a barrier to some SME employers complying with health and safety regulations.

The research shows that just 35% of SMEs surveyed provide Display Screen Equipment (DSE) eyecare to all screen users, compared to a much greater 53% of larger companies. Failing to provide this care 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 [1] must be provided with company-funded eyecare by their employer, if the worker requests it.

As further evidence of the problem, just 4% of larger companies surveyed said they did not provide DSE eyecare for any employees, whereas nearly a quarter of SMEs (24%) stated they provided no DSE eyecare.

It is possible that the reticence in providing what is actually obligatory care, may be linked to foreseen costs. According to the survey, 44% of SME employers are currently paying over £50 for DSE eyecare for employees (to cover an eye examination and glasses, if required for solely DSE use). Close to a quarter (22%) currently pay more than a staggering £75, and 22% of SME 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 of less than £20, paid by less than a quarter (24%) of SME employers.

These vast overpayments may be due, in part, to the administration method chosen by employers. Half (50%) 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. This compares to just 32% of larger companies.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare explains: ‘The 24% of SME 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.

‘Where SMEs do seem to do particularly well in comparison to the larger companies is in securing better deals for their eyecare, continued Jim Lythgow. ‘Although only 24% of SMEs are paying the market rate of less than £20 for their DSE eyecare, this is still a favourable figure when compared to just 6% of larger companies.’

*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. These figures were then split between SMEs (those employing less than 250 people) and larger companies (those employing more than 250 people). Fuller results are included below:

Do you provide DSE (display screen equipment) eyecare for your employees?

 

All

SME

Larger company

Yes, to some screen users

25%

24%

26%

Yes, to all screen users

44%

35%

53%

Yes, to all, whether they regularly use screens or not

17%

17%

17%

No, to none

14%

24%

4%

 

How much do you currently pay for DSE eyecare for employees

(to cover an eye examination and glasses, if required to DSE use)?

 

All

SME

Larger company

Less than £10

6%

12%

0%

£11 to £20

11%

12%

6%

£21 to £50

17%

10%

21%

£51 to £75

21%

22%

41%

£76 to 100

17%

12%

19%

More than £100

7%

10%

13%

Don’t know

22%

22%

0%

 

How do you currently provide eyecare for employees?

 

All

SME

Larger company

They visit their own choice of optician and the company reimburses the cost through expenses

41%

50%

32%

The company provides a voucher scheme

40%

24%

55%

The company has no eyecare policy

12%

18%

6%

Other

8%

8%

7%

 

 

 

 

Visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate

 

  1. Screen Users, as defined by Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations