Employers are being warned that they are obliged to provide free eye-teste for employers, regardless of whether they are working at home or in the office, as evidence suggests there has been a dramatic decline in these regular check-ups.
Health Shield Friendly Society says eye care claims on its cash plan had fallen by a quarter in 2020, even though a recent survey suggested that four out of 10 adults (42 per cent) said their eyesight had deteriorated since the start of the pandemic due to increased screen time.
Health Shield adds that although claims are picking up this year, there is a risk that homeworker eye-test remain on the back burner for many employers.
A recent study from Fight for Sight found that almost half of all adults (49 per cent) have used screens more since the pandemic began; with one-third (33 per cent) saying usage has increased by more than two hours, up to four times a day. More than a fifth (21 per cent) of respondents said they were less likely to get an eye test than they were before the pandemic because of fear of catching or spreading the virus.
A poll by Cubitts also found that 11 per cent could be causing themselves damage by needing prescription glasses but not having them, and 24 per cent have either never had their eyes tested or haven’t within the past five years.
Health Shield head of marketing Jennie Doyle said: “Working from home has inevitably led to increased time in front of a screen for many people over the last year, and as this becomes a norm for many going forward, this cannot be dismissed as a short-term issue anymore.
“Our data suggests that employees have not been seeking professional eyecare over the last year as claims for eye appointments, glasses and lenses are down by over a quarter on the previous year.
“It is a legal obligation for all employers in the UK whose employees use a screen for more than an hour a day to pay for eye-tests if the employee requests one.
“In addition, the Health & Safety Executive states that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from harm by completing risk assessments and acting on the findings. For homeworkers these risks include lone working without supervision, working with display screen equipment (DSE), stress and mental health. Now more than ever, we urge employees to utilise this benefit, particularly if they have health cash plans where this will come as standard.”
As estimates suggest 60 per cent of the UK workforce expect to be working from home into the longer term, Health Shield has recently added a series of risk assessment questionnaires, including one focused on display screen assessment (DSE) which incorporates eyesight, to its newly launched Occupational Health (OH) platform to help with immediate and ongoing employer requirements.
Offered on a pay-as-you-go-basis and with an inbuilt audit trail, Health Shield says the questionnaires should prove particularly useful for SMEs and organisations that do not have dedicated occupational health support.
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