One of the popular questions we get asked is about the provision of free eye tests and glasses by employers.


Currently, the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations state that, if you are a regular user of visual displays and need an eye test, your employer must pay for the test. The recommendation is to get your eyes tested every two years to make sure DSE working is not affecting your eyesight.


It is your responsibility to ask for your employer for either a free test or reimbursement of the cost if you have to pay for it yourself, so it is best to check with your employer before booking any tests.


If, following the test, it is established that you need to wear glasses solely for DSE work, your employer must pay for the glasses. However, if you need an ordinary prescription for everyday use, your employer is not obliged to pay for them.


Employers must fund the essential corrective frames and lenses. If you fancy a pair of Chanel or Fendi frames, be prepared to cover part of the cost as your employer is not obliged to fully fund these. While it doesn’t harm asking your employer to fully fund such frames, be aware that a tax liability may arise if they agree to your request!


From a tax perspective, as an employee, the provision of free eyes tests and essential corrective frames and lenses are exempt from Income Tax as long as:


· The test and glasses are required under the DSE Regulations; and

· The tests, and glasses where applicable, are made available to all those within your organisation who are required to under the Regulations.


For an employer, no Class 1A National Insurance Contributions are due on the costs either, plus you may deduct the costs as a business expense.


If you’re lucky enough to have the full cost of your Ray Ban frames funded, the cost above the price of standard frames will be a taxable benefit on which you will have to pay Income Tax and your employer will have to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions.


If you have any tax questions, click here to get in touch with our tax advisory team.

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