DSE Workers Are Legally Entitled To Free Eye Tests And In Some Cases, Glasses From Their Employers - Can Tax Relief Be Claimed?
Employers must protect employees from the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE) such as PC, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Regulations for DSE do not apply to workers that use screens infrequently or for a short time.
Employees should ensure they take regular breaks from DSE work, whilst DSE work does not cause permanent dame to eyes, long spells looking at the screen can cause:
- tired eyes
- temporary short-sightedness
It is important for the employee to take breaks from the screen to avoid discomfort.
Under the Health and Safety at Work regulations, an employer must provide an eye test for the employee and pay for it. The employer can ask the employee to organise and pay for the test themselves and reimburse the worker.
You don’t have to report anything to HMRC or pay tax and National Insurance on eye tests as they are exempt if they are required by health and safety legislation for employees who are classed as DSE workers.
Employers have to pay for glasses IF the results show that any lenses prescribed by the optician are for display screen work only and not a general prescription. If the above is satisfied the company can therefore purchase the corrective eye wear on the employee’s behalf and claim these as an expense for corporation tax purposes.
Over and above this, in order to not trigger a benefit in kind charge (with personal tax charges against the employee and National Insurance consequences for the company) the glasses must only be used for this purpose. As such, the glasses must be left next to the computer area overnight and not either taken home or taken away from the work area and used for watching the television etc.
In practice it is difficult to imagine how this second part can be policed by HMRC.