Are employers required to pay for eye tests and glasses for their visual display unit operatives?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/2792) cover visual display unit (VDU) work, for example work using computer screens. Regulation 5 sets out an employer's responsibility for providing eyesight tests. It provides that the employer must ensure that employees who are VDU users, or who are to become VDU users, are provided with an appropriate eye and eyesight test if they request one. VDU users are defined as employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. The test must be carried out as soon as practicable after the request or, where the individual is to become a VDU user, before they do so. Thereafter, the employer must ensure that the VDU user is provided with further eye and eyesight tests at regular intervals.

Employers are required to pay for spectacles for a VDU user only if the results of their eye and eyesight test show that special corrective appliances are necessary for VDU work and that normal corrective appliances cannot be used. Only a small number of people need special spectacles for VDU work. These typically have prescription lenses for the intermediate distance at which the VDU screen is viewed.