Specsavers Corporate Eyecare today reveals the results of comprehensive research into eyecare policies and employers’ understanding of the related regulations. Conducted among over 270 Human Resources professionals, the research represents more than 420,000 employees.
With Display Screen Equipment (or VDUs) in widespread use across all industries, 1992 Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations (amended in 2002) apply to virtually all staff. In fact, only 3% of HR professionals said that none of their staff use VDUs in the course of their work. Yet, one fifth of employers (20%) do not offer company-funded eye examinations to any of their staff. This means that at least 17% of companies are not complying with the health and safety regulations. These stipulate that any member of staff using a VDU is entitled to a company-funded eyetest, when requested, and glasses, if required for VDU use.
Further, a staggering 81% of companies are failing to comply with the regulations as they are not wholly funding VDU eyecare (eye examinations and glasses if required for VDU use).
Nearly three quarters (73%) of companies are not making use of vouchers to administer eyecare. Voucher schemes are arguably the most admin-friendly and cost-effective eyecare solution available. Well over half (63%) of companies leave the choice of optometrist up to the individual member of staff and either allow staff to claim back any eyecare on expenses or have no formal system in place at all. This could prove expensive as costs for optometrists can vary hugely. This lack of defined policy can also lead to a loss of control over quality and consistency of service and care.
Over half of HR professionals (51%) would expect to pay more than £50 for an eye examination and glasses required for VDU use. 14% would expect to pay more than £100. This shows the vast overspend that could be made through lack of investigation into eyecare providers or through the company not specifying their own optometrist. Both the eyetest and glasses for VDU use can actually be provided for less than £20, as realised by just 20% of respondents.
The survey revealed that 60% of HR professionals only review their eyecare provider every five years or even less often. Companies could well be missing out on cost-effective deals for employers or on technological advances: digital retinal cameras are now available at leading optometrists and can make eyecare benefits a much bigger part of overall healthcare by enabling the detection of life-threatening illnesses and medical conditions.
Value of eyecare as a benefit
The value placed upon eyecare benefits by staff is high: 14% of respondents believe their staff see eyecare as the most valued benefit or more valued than other benefits. Nearly half (47%) of employers believe their staff value eyecare equally as much as, if not more than, other benefits. The results are especially impressive considering that this is also comparing eyecare with financial benefits.
Communication of benefits
The intranet has become a favourite tool for communicating benefits. Nearly half (49%) of all companies now use their intranet as a method of conveying their eyecare policy. Despite the well-known importance of communication of benefits, 15% of companies still have no formal method for communicating their eyecare policy to their staff.
Laura Butler, Corporate Account Manager at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: “It is essential that companies should not only have an eyecare policy in place but also that they ensure that staff are aware of their entitlement. This is actually a stipulation under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations and is vital in ensuring the proper care of staff and the careful management of related budgets.”
Ms Butler continues: “We encourage all companies to invest a little time into exploring the options for eyecare benefits. The rewards will be seen by employees and employers alike.”