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April 24, 2012

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Small firms dragging heels on eyecare duties

Small companies are not meeting their health and safety obligations in respect of eyecare and large companies are paying well over the odds for eyecare provision, according to research by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

Of the companies surveyed that employ fewer than 10 people, nearly two-thirds have no eyecare policy in place at all. Furthermore, the remaining 35 per cent still reimburse employees via expenses for eyecare and not one company uses a voucher scheme.

Larger companies fair somewhat better, with all survey respondents employing between 1001 and 5000 people confirming that they provide company-funded eyecare for display-screen users. However, they may be paying in excess of what they should be, according to Specsavers, which reports that 60 per cent still reimburse through expenses, rather than vouchers.

Specsavers also asked employers of all sizes about their attitude to the cost of eyecare provision. When choosing a supplier, cost was placed as being of ‘utmost importance’ by just 9 per cent of companies with fewer than 100 employees. However, for organisations with more than 5000 employees, this percentage grew to 22 per cent.

With huge variations in opticians’ fees, reimbursement via expenses typically costs the employer between £33 and £83 more than using voucher schemes and, in some cases, can cost well over £100, or more.

Specsavers believes that the unnecessary costs incurred will have a big impact on small companies, which simply cannot afford to pay more than is necessary for employee benefits. For large companies, however, it argues that the overspend may be of even greater concern, when the number of employees requiring eyecare is taken into account.    
Laura Butler, corporate account manager at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “Eyecare is a complex issue in the workplace, as it is both a valued employee benefit and a necessary health and safety requirement. Companies of all sizes should carefully research the most appropriate method of eyecare provision for them. Huge savings can be made in both time and cost, with no loss of quality.”

More information regarding the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk

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