Sponsored Feature: Eyecare at work – benefit from your rights
Virtually every employee across the Republic of Ireland is entitled to company-funded eyecare.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations anyone who regularly uses a display screen for work must be provided with appropriate eyecare. As computers are now used in the majority of working roles, there are very few employees who will not fall under the regulations.
Who is covered?
The basic rule is that anyone who regularly uses a Visual Display Unit (VDU) is entitled to company-funded eye tests and must be provided with glasses, if required for screen use. The specifics as to who is covered include: if they have no choice but to use a VDU for their work, if they normally use the VDU for near-continuous periods of more than one hour at a time and if the VDU is generally used daily. Many employers find it is often better to include everyone in a cost-effective blanket scheme, than to spend a disproportionate amount of time and money trying to exclude an individual.
VDU eye tests should be offered before an employee commences VDU work and then at regular intervals determined by the optician.
The employer must fund the eye test. If it is found that glasses are required for screen use, then the cost of these must also be met wholly by the employer. This is only the case when glasses are needed specifically to view the VDU and where the employee’s own glasses are not appropriate.
The VDU ‘test’ is actually far more than just an assessment of vision. A full eye examination should also be provided. This is designed to check the overall health of the eye to detect defects, injury or illnesses that may not cause visual disturbances but can have serious implications.
Retinal photography is offered as standard for the over 40s at some opticians: a photograph is taken of the back of the eye and this can detect a number of conditions, from diabetes to hypertension. The image is kept on file so comparisons can be made and any changes monitored. Consequently the eye examination is an important aspect of overall healthcare.
Choice of optician
While the employer must pay for VDU eyecare, an employee must not take this as a green light to surprise their boss with an unsanctioned expenses claim. An employer is permitted to nominate a chosen optician and is indeed wise to do so, as prices can vary hugely.
Many enlightened employers are now using voucher schemes to cover their employee eyecare. The employer simply purchases as many vouchers as required and hands them out to relevant staff, as and when appropriate, for an employee to produce the voucher at the relevant opticians.
VDU eyecare can also be a valuable employee benefit. Some providers offer various discount vouchers at no extra cost: including money-off for employees and their family. In fact, the value of additional benefits for employees from some corporate suppliers can be as much as €89, from a voucher costing as little as €19.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 can be found via www.hsa.ie. Chapter 5 of part 2 covers Display Screen Equipment.