Corporate eyecare benefits are popular with employees, enabling them to look after the health of their eyes with regular examinations. For an employer, the perk helps to meet some of its health and safety obligations.
Under the 1992 Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations, employers have a legal obligation to provide basic eyecare benefits. Any employee using a visual display unit (VDU) can ask for an employer-funded eye and eyesight test. Employers must also meet the cost of glasses if required for VDU use.
Employers should also consider extending eyecare benefits to staff that drive on business. Although it is the employee’s own responsibility to get their eyes checked, if, because of their poor eyesight, an employee had a fatal car accident while driving on business, their employer could be held liable under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 for failing to
offer an eye test.
Eyecare schemes can vary. Some employers will provide eye tests by in-house clinicians or via an arrangement with a local optician, while others reimburse employees through expenses for the cost of a trip to the optician.
Vouchers are another popular way to provide eyecare benefits. Bulk buying can secure a lower price and there is much less paperwork than if each employee submitted an expenses claim.
Vouchers are often prepaid. For example, with Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, employers pay up front for the vouchers they think they will need, but can get a refund for any that are not used.
Not all schemes require an up-front payment, however. For example, with Boots Optician Corporate Eyecare and Optical Express, staff still receive a voucher to obtain an eye test and a contribution towards glasses, but the employer is charged monthly for the vouchers used.
Health cash plans that include optical benefits can also be used to meet employers’ legal responsibilities. For instance, Westfield Health’s employer-paid plan, Foresight, provides up to £55 of optical benefit for £1 a week, rising to £220 for £6 a week. But employers could be caught out with a cash plan if an employee has already used their optical benefit but wants an eye test because of vision problems when using a computer.
Costs vary across different schemes. To meet health and safety requirements for VDU users, Specsavers charges £17 for its VDU eyecare voucher, ASE Corporate Eyecare charges £25 for its EyecarePlan Solo and Vision Express charges £15.
Boots and Optical Express each charge £10 for eye examinations, while Boots charges from £25 for VDU glasses and Optical Express from £49, but it will refund the eye test charge if glasses are bought.
85% of people admit to having problems with their vision (Eyecare Trust)
1 in 3 drivers would fail an eyesight test (Specsavers Corporate Eyecare)
What are corporate eyecare benefits?
Employers have a legal obligation to fund eye tests and prescription glasses for staff that use VDUs. The requirements can be met in several ways, including vouchers, cash reimbursements and by setting up an arrangement with a local optician.
Where can employers get more information?
The Health and Safety Executive publishes The law on VDUs: An easy guide, which outlines employers’ responsibilities under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations.
Who are the main providers?
The main providers are ASE Corporate Eyecare, Boots, Edenred, Intelligent Corporate Eyecare, Optical Express, Specsavers and Vision Express.