Misunderstanding of VDU rules leads to poor take-up

Research released by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare shows that businesses are spending unnecessary money on eyecare because of a general misunderstanding of the regulations.

Despite the overspend, the figures also show take-up of schemes to be poor.

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations require employers to provide all employees who use visual display units (VDUs) with eye tests, when requested, and glasses, if required.

Whilst the vast majority of respondents (88%) stated they were familiar with the regulations, far less (70%) thought the regulations were clear.

The confusion becomes evident when looking at beliefs about companies funding the cost of glasses. Whilst 90% believe they must offer, and pay for, eyetests for employees who work with VDUs. A huge 59% believe the company only needs to make a contribution towards glasses and a further 20% believe they need only make a contribution, if they so wish.

Only 17% of respondents believe the company should fund the total cost of glasses required for VDU use. This is staggeringly low when the regulations clearly state that the employer must pay the full costs of an eye-test and the provision of basic spectacles, where required.

Yet 28% of respondents believe the company should offer and pay for varifocal or bifocal spectacles for VDU use, when the regulations stipulate that the company need only provide single-vision glasses as varifocal or bifocal spectacles may not be suitable for VDU work. A costly misinterpretation for any company.

Nearly half of all respondents (48%) believe it is up to the employee to decide which optician they visit. With vastly differing prices among opticians, this could again prove to be a costly lack of understanding, as, in fact, the company is allowed to nominate its chosen optometrist. The cost differences can be enormous.

 In previous research, Specsavers has discovered that 84% of respondents believe, perhaps from bitter experience, that the total cost of an eye-test and glasses would be over £50, when vouchers for the total cost are available for just £17.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare says, ‘It is vital for everyone to have regular eye examinations, as opticians not only look after our vision but can also pick up on other serious factors affecting general health. It is also important, however, for companies to make sure that they are fully aware of the stipulations, so that they ensure they are caring for their employees’ health but are not incurring unnecessary costs.’

Despite 91% of respondents being aware that they should communicate their eyecare policy to their staff, nearly two thirds (59%) of companies said that less than half of their employees who work with VDUs, make use of their eyecare policy.

The evidence suggests that greater communication is needed regarding eyecare policies and their availability for relevant employees; and if employers believe the cost is much more than it is then perhaps they are not so keen to encourage take up.

Jim Lythgow continues, ‘At Specsavers, we are determined to increase understanding of the DSE regulations so that companies do not try to avoid complying because of an unwarranted fear of costs.’

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