Companies paying too much for eyecare provision by not adhering to eyecare regulations

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare research highlight the extra costs companies are paying through not adhering to the DSE (Display Screen Equipment) regulations.

Companies suffering unnecessary costs

Whilst much of the misunderstanding results in the employees missing out, companies themselves are suffering unnecessary costs too. In 70% of cases, employees are allowed to choose which optician they visit. The regulations are, however, quite explicit in allowing employers to nominate a particular optometrist. By not doing so, employers could be spending far more on eyecare than is necessary.

Much of the confusion seems to be around the classification of a VDU ‘user’. Whilst 56% of companies state that employees who use a VDU for any amount of time are eligible for a company-funded eyetest, 15% say they have to work at a VDU for over 4 hours a day, 9% say 2 – 3 hours, 5% say up to an hour and 14% say they just do not know. Unfortunately, there is no specific time-length within the regulations. Specsavers recommends that if there is any element of doubt as to whether an individual is classed as a VDU user, it is often more cost-effective, and beneficial to the organisation, to include them in company-funded eyetests, rather than devote excessive time and effort seeking their exclusion.

Perceived costs and numbers

But this is, perhaps, where the problem lies. Nearly a quarter (23%) of all companies surveyed believe the cost of an eyetest plus glasses for VDU use would be over £100 and 84% believe it would be over £50. In fact, Specsavers offers a VDU Voucher for just £17, which will cover the cost of an eyetest and glasses for VDU use. Where an organisation does not have a clearly communicated eyecare policy in place, they are exposed to an employee presenting a bill for an eyetest, which can be up to £35 and for glasses, which could cost hundreds of pounds.

When it comes to needing glasses for VDU use, the numbers of employees affected is much lower than perceived: Nearly a third (31%) of companies believe that the proportion of employees who actually need glasses for VDU use is more than 30%. Over half (53%) of companies believe more than 20% of employees need glasses for VDU use. In fact, the actual figure is usually less than 10%.

Lack of understanding may be opening up companies to greater costs than necessary as 8% of companies insist that the employee must have an eyetest if they work with a VDU. This is, however, an unusual area of health and safety, in that whilst the employer must make the facilities available and effectively communicate such provision, the employee cannot be compelled to undertake the eye-test if they do not wish to do so. Equally, nearly a third (30%) of companies, offer company-funded eyetests on an annual basis when actually the regulations stipulate that the professional guidance of the optometrist should be followed. In practise this is often a two-year test cycle.


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