Over recent months it’s become clear to us that managers and staff alike don’t know exactly what the law says about an employer’s obligations to provide and pay for staff eyesight tests and that this can cause misunderstandings to develop.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 provide that employers do have a legal responsibility to provide and pay for eye and eyesight tests, on request, for any employees who currently use display screen equipment (DSE) or are due to become habitual users of DSE for a significant part of their normal working hours. This entitlement extends to further tests at regular intervals and the Regulations state that the professional guidance of the Optometrist carrying out the first test should be followed. In practice, this is often a two year test cycle.
If a DSE user requires glasses specifically for and for the sole purpose of DSE work, their employer will be obliged to pay for basic glasses only so as to provide correction for their DSE work. Contrary to many employers’ fears, only a very small proportion of DSE users fall into this category, usually less than 10%. Most people who need to wear glasses, need them for purposes other than or in addition to DSE work, such as reading, driving and distance vision.
Employers are not obliged to pay for contact lenses or ‘designer’ frames and if an employee’s existing glasses are suitable for DSE work or a change to their existing prescription, which will also be satisfactory for computer work, is recommended for other use, such as reading, driving or distance vision, employers are not responsible for these costs.