What is corporate eyecare?
Corporate eyecare is an employee benefit that helps employers meet their duty-of-care requirements for staff who use visual display units (VDUs) and who drive on business. Cover can be provided in various ways, including health cash plans and vouchers and also by setting an arrangement with a local optician.
Where can employers get more information?
Information about employer responsibilities is available on the Health and Safety Executive’s website at: www.hse.gov.uk.
Who are the main providers?
Leading providers include ASE Corporate Eyecare, Boots, Duncan and Todd, Edenred, National Dental Plan, Optical Express, Smart Employee Eyecare, Specsavers, Tesco Opticians, Vision Express and VSP Vision Care.
A heightened focus on employee wellbeing has prompted many organisations to include eyecare cover in their health and wellbeing benefits plans.
Regular eye tests not only highlight problems in eye health, but in other areas of health as well. For example, a full eye examination can detect early signs of health conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Eyecare can be split into four main areas: display screen equipment (DSE) eyecare for screen users, safety eyewear for those working in ‘at risk’ roles, driver eyecare and optical care, which can be offered by employers to staff as a healthcare benefit.
Under the Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations 1992, employers have a legal responsibility to provide eyecare for all members of staff who use computers, laptops or similar devices at work, as well as those who wear glasses but need safety eyewear too.
Employers also have responsibilities for looking after the eyes of any employees who have to drive on business. Although road traffic legislation places the onus on the individual to ensure they are fit to drive, there is also an element of employer responsibility when the journey is made for work purposes. A fatal accident caused by an employee’s poor eyesight while driving for work can have legal implications for employers under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Duty of care aside, supporting employees in looking after their eye health has benefits for the organisation. Research has shown that many working days are lost due to employees taking time off for eye-related illnesses. Corporate eyecare plans can help reduce this, at the same time, positioning the organisation as one that is caring and promotes worker satisfaction and loyalty. Offering eye tests and examinations can also reduce the risk of more serious conditions and lower healthcare costs.
When it comes to corporate eyecare provision, there are various options available. Some employers set up and run schemes in conjunction with a local optician based on a system of employee referrals or on-site eye examinations.
Voucher schemes have become popular in recent years, and are available from the larger chains of opticians, including Specsavers and Boots. By providing vouchers, employers can comply with their legal duty-of-care requirements in a simple and more cost-effective way.
Some providers offer both paper and electronic vouchers, and these can 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.
Health cash plans
Another option for covering eye care is the health cash plan. These cover a variety of everyday healthcare expenses, including dental, optical, physiotherapy and consultations. Rather than having the costs covered, the employee pays for the eye test and glasses then claims it back from the cash plan provider. These will cover an employer’s duty-of-care requirements and are popular because of the ease of administration.
Broader optical cover options are also available, which can help employees with the costs of buying new glasses. One example is VSP’s Vision Care scheme, which supports health and wellbeing, and covers duty-of-care requirements. It encourages all employees to take a full eye examination every two years, aiding the early detection and prevention of other health problems. Meanwhile, National Dental Plan has extended its corporate optical cover to include employees’ partners.