A corporate eyecare policy can help an organisation look after the health of its employees.
Traditionally seen as a means to meet an organisation’s duty-of-care requirements, the popularity of eyecare schemes means that more employers are looking to make them part of their package of health and wellbeing benefits.
A regular eye test can help employees look after many different aspects of their health. As well as ensuring they are not plagued by headaches and sight problems resulting from uncorrected vision, a full eye examination will pick up the early signs of a variety of chronic health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Helping employees look after their health in this way also benefits the employer, through reduced sickness absence and, by preventing serious conditions, lower healthcare costs.
Providing eyecare benefits also enables an organisation to meet its duty-of-care obligations. Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, employers have a legal obligation to provide basic eyecare benefits to employees using computer screens and other similar devices. This needs to cover the cost of an eye and eyesight test plus the cost of glasses if required for visual display unit (VDU) work.
It is also sensible to extend eyecare to employees who drive on business. Although there is no specific regulation relating to this, health and safety laws apply to all aspects of work, including ensuring they are fit to drive. If an employee’s poor eyesight meant they had a fatal accident while driving for work, an employer could be held liable under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
There are a number of different ways an employer can provide eyecare benefits. At the most basic, an employer could simply reimburse employees from petty cash or through expenses for the cost of an eye examination. Although this is simple to set up, it can be labour intensive, so many employers opt for a more formal scheme.
Voucher schemes are particularly popular, especially where an employer is looking to cover its duty-of-care requirements. These can either be pre-paid, with employers handing out the vouchers as employees ask for tests, or they can be operated on a pay-as-you-go basis. Providers include ASE Corporate Eyecare, Boots and Vision Express, and employers can expect to pay anything from £15 upwards for a voucher.
Broad eyecare cover
Broader cover is also available, allowing employees to get money towards new glasses. For example, as well as covering an eye test, National Dental Plan’s optical plan includes £50 for frames, £100 for lenses and £10,000 for loss of sight. This means it can be used alongside a voucher scheme or on a standalone basis.
Another broader cover option is VSP’s Vision Care scheme. This was launched in 2014, although the provider is already well established in the US and Australia, and is designed to support health and wellbeing as well as covering duty-of-care requirements.
It encourages all employees to take a full eye examination every two years so health problems can be detected early and steps taken to prevent them developing. Premiums start at £2.50 per employee a month for £125 of benefit over a two-year period.
It is also possible to provide optical benefits through a health cash plan. These cover a variety of everyday healthcare expenses including dental, optical, physiotherapy and consultations, with employees claiming the cost of treatment back from the cash plan provider. Prices start at less than £1 a week per employee, for which they would get around £50 of optical cover each year.
What is corporate eyecare?
Corporate eyecare is a popular employee benefit that also helps an employer meet its duty-of-care requirements for employees using visual display units (VDUs) and those driving on business. It can be provided in a number of ways including vouchers and optical plans and through health cash plans or by setting up an arrangement with a local optician.
Where can employers get more information?
More information about the legal requirements can be found on the Health and Safety Executive’s website at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l26.pdf.
Who are the main providers?
The main providers include ASE Corporate Eyecare, Boots, Edenred, Intelligent Corporate Eyecare, National Dental Plan, Optical Express, Specsavers, Tesco Opticians, Vision Express and VSP Vision Care.
- 27% of employers fail to comply with health and safety display screen equipment legislation (Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, December 2014)
- 10% of UK adults had never had an eye examination in 2013 (Eyecare Trust)
- 26% of drivers have not had their vision tested in the last two years (Brake, August 2013)