Paying for prescription glasses as an employer

Employees who spend a lot of their day in front of computer screens can experience eyesight problems and it is the employer's responsibility, to a certain extent, to pay for eye tests and, if necessary, the spectacles themselves. This guide will explain in more detail your obligations.

There is lots of conflicting advice around what is called the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations. At its simplest, an employer is responsible for the health of its staff’s eyes. However, delving deeper, there are several issues to consider.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have carried out risk assessments and are complying with the regulations applying to display screen equipment (DSE) users. You need to assess the individual and to determine whether they are, in effect, a user.

This is not an extensive explanation, but if the individual spends under 50 per cent of their time during the working day on DSE and they have opportunities for ‘eye breaks’ then it is unlikely that they are a user. But you need to assess the situation properly yourself.

If they are a user then you need to ensure that they are fitted with spectacles which have the appropriate, corrective lenses. They are not entitled to designer frames, shaded lenses, react-to-light type lenses, etc. What they are entitled to, and what you must pay for, is the basic lens and the basic frame and there is at least one well-known chain which will do the eyesight test for £25 and lenses appropriately for £50. There is then the additional cost of the frames but they do not need to be designer ones!

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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