Employers are increasingly discouraging their staff from visiting the dentist during work hours, a survey has revealed.
The number of companies taking this approach has doubled from 5% in 2009 to 10% this year.
Researchers behind the 2010 Simplyhealth Annual Dental Survey said it is a sign that companies have been under pressure to keep people at work during the recession.
Results showed that HR managers in the north-east were the most likely (25%) to discourage employees.
Surprisingly, the healthcare sector is one of the most restrictive to employees, with 30% taking such an attitude.
But many take a more generous approach, with 71% of HR managers saying they were concerned that employees cannot afford to maintain their oral health.
A majority (74%) believe it is the responsibility of the company to look after the oral health of the workforce.
James Glover, corporate sales and marketing director at Simplyhealth, said: ‘It’s clear from these findings that companies are bothered about their employees’ oral health but have needed to tighten their belts and restrict time away from the workplace.
‘Last year, 54% of companies felt that employees could choose when they wanted to visit the dentist, one year on and this has gone down to just 37%.
‘With more people struggling to find an NHS dentist, 39% up from 35% in 2009, offering dental benefits can allow employees the option to visit a private dentist outside of office hours.’
James Glover claimed that of the companies that offer dental benefits, 37% have found it easier to control time off for dental appointments, 41% have seen a reduction in time off due to dental health problems, and 47% have seen an increase in employee engagement.
Opinion Matters surveyed 250 HR managers and 1,005 working adults for the survey, in February and March 2010.