Home > Ask Our Experts > I Need Prescription Safety Glasses: Should Employer Pay?

I Need Prescription Safety Glasses: Should Employer Pay?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 22 May 2020 | comments*Discuss
Prescription Glasses Goggles Safety


I have just had my first eye test and require glasses. I work on a VDU but also I am in an engineering workshop that requires eye protection. Question: What does my employer have to pay for by law: eye test, safety glasses or both?

(S.S, 2 April 2009)


Thank you for your question. There is Employment Law guidelines regarding eye tests and potential payment for glasses, which we will come to in a moment, but there is no legal guidance for prescription protection goggles. If you require safety goggles for your job, you will be expected to wear non-prescription goggles over the top of your glasses. These goggles must be of good quality (CE stamped) and be fitted and provided for free by your employer.

Health and Safety

If you have any issues in getting non-prescription safety goggles from your employer, you certainly ought to make a noise about it. It may be worth pointing your boss in the direction of the Government’s health and safety in the workplace directive, as mistakes or accidents can be far more costly than a pair of safety goggles. If you have an approachable boss, they may be open to the idea of buying prescription safety goggles – especially if you push the angle of being more effective in your job – and there are plenty of online retailers that are very affordable.

Paying for the Test

In terms of your Employer Paying For Your Eye Test, it is likely that they will pay for it in your circumstances. The current employment law rules state that employers must pay for an eye test at least once every two years for employees that spend a ‘considerable’ amount of time at a computer for the purpose of their work. What ‘considerable’ means is up for discussion, but the general consensus seems to be around five hours per day, most days.

Payment of the required glasses is an even more confusing matter, with the employee needing to prove that they need the glasses ‘solely for work at a VDU’ (Visual Display Unit – computer to you and I). This would mean that you have to leave your glasses on your desk at the end of the day and only wear them at the computer. Even if you can prove this, you may only get the cost of basic frames (the really basic ones!) and single-vision lenses. If this suits you, then go for it.

Other employers give their glasses-wearing staff an allowance towards their glasses – often around £50. Again, you are likely to find more affordable glasses online rather than paying high street opticians’ prices. You can have your eye test at the opticians, take your prescription and then buy your glasses and/or prescription safety goggles online. You may need to pay for the test and then get reimbursed by your employer.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I’m a self employed dog groomer and wear glasses, all the dog hair and dander is getting in my eyes.If I buy prescription safety glasses/goggles can I deduct them from my tax claim? Thanks
Lindz - 22-May-20 @ 8:22 PM
I have been with my employer for 2 years as a welder, I recently asked for prescription safety glasses only to be told that only people who use a vdu qualify for glasses. As a Welder I can't wear over glasses under my welding helmet, Is this allowed ?
GG - 8-Dec-19 @ 10:05 AM
I have to wear perscription safety glasses and as i do a lot of grinding work wielding and other engineering tasks my glasses have become scratched and i can no longer see properly with them i know our company policy has been changed we used to just pay for them and bring the receipt for reimbursement. I have been asking my employeers for 14 weeks straight now and cannot get a straight answer they just keep saying ill find out but then i never hear anything and have to chase down and asked them again.. What should i do next i feel 14 weeks is more than a reasonable amount of time for them to sort this issue out.
D - 11-Nov-19 @ 10:14 AM
I have just been advised by an optician that I need glasses for work / Driving. He also told me that my employer should contribute to the cost of the glasses as I work on a VDU all day (2 Days a week). Please could you advise if this is correct before I ask Employer???
Molly - 28-Aug-18 @ 9:25 AM
Hi any pointers you could give me relating to my situation would be most welcome. I joined a company with a 6 months’ probation period. I had originally turned down two offers from the company to remain with my old employer. The third offer was very good. The new company told me they wanted to hire someone with more experience to help mentor the very young team they had. I originally did very well. I was promoted in the second month of employment and sent to America for training. After being promoted I noticed a lot of hostility from a group of 4 senior managers / head of departments who were all much younger than me. They were in their late twenties I am forty nine. Things got really bad when the group re arranged the office and moved my desk isolated in the centre of the office sat on my own. It was like I was a show piece. I tried not to let that bother me but they then started to make unfounded allegations against me such as I was asking irrelevant questions in meetings and wasting their time, I was breathing heavily, I walked with a limp and it was distracting them, The noise from my crutches was disturbing their concentration ( I have a broken ankle and use crutches to walk). Totally by surprise, on my third month of probation,my manager called me into the office on a Friday and told me that he wanted me to resign and I had until Monday to give him my written resignation. He said my presence was distracting the team and would not say any more. I raised a grievance for age and disability discrimination and provided many examples or where the group of young mangers had excluded me from meetings and social events and made clear that I felt they had purposely moved my desk so that I sat on my own in the middle of the office as I was the oldest person in that office. HR set up a grievance meeting but gave me no time to prepare for it. Before the grievance meeting they decided to down grade the meeting to an ‘arbitration. Meeting with my manager and so I could not have someone present with me. At the end of a three hour meeting they fired me and asked me to leave the premises immediately not even allowing me to take my personal belongings from my desk. After firing me they did not pay me for the last ten days I worked for them, they did not pay any accumulated holiday pay, they did not pay three weeks’ notice of termination that is in my contract and they have never confirmed in writing why they sacked me. I think this is breach of contract. I also think they fired me because I raised a grievance for age and disability discrimination. Any thoughts or what I should do next will be welcome. They have stopped responding to my letters and phone calls.
Karlos99 - 21-Sep-15 @ 1:32 AM
Hi, I went for a job interview where I had a written assessment and interviewed I was told that the assessment was going to be part of the Interview but not questioned on it I made bullet point notes on the issues raised an interview went well. I had a email saying the following ' It was very nice to meet you today and to hear a little about you and your work experience. We would like to offer you a position as caseworker, initially for one day a week on a Friday. Being very honest the assessment that you did for us didn’t demonstrate the depth of understanding that we were hoping for but you seem to know your benefits and you seem very keen to offer the best advice to the community. Please let me know what you think and we can discuss the finer details if you are happy with this offer. I accepted this offer few days afterwards then on 2nd thought I was not sure the reason for the 1day a week role so I inquired more and I was told that ' Please see my email to you on the..... explaining that at your interview you did not quite demonstrate the depth of knowledge of benefits thatwe are looking for. This is why we offered you the one day a week which you agreed to. There is no ‘exactly’ about when the hours may increase but we are hoping that if you can demonstrate advice at caseworker level after a probation period then we can look again at the hours. First she said my assessment now she says my interview, I want to respond because I feel did is really wrong reducing the work days to one day instead of 2days I have worked as an adviser for 9yrs and the interview went well my assessment notes ere bullet points because I thought they were going to interview me on the issues raised. Please let me know your thoughts thanks
folky - 21-Mar-14 @ 7:41 PM
i work in a rail engineering shop where we have been told by management that we will soon be required to wear eye protection all the time ie.. 8 hours a day instead of when and where required with power tools. my question is ...is this enforcable and if so what is the standard of eye ware required for such long periods? there is an opinion that eye damage could result from long periods in goggles and glasses among the workforce.
john - 5-Sep-13 @ 6:36 PM
I work through a agency and they loan me out to another company ,I job intails me welding most days and over time my glasses which are prescription are scratched and need renewing badly who pays my employer or the firm im loaned out to im really confused
none - 5-Jul-13 @ 9:33 PM
I have to wear glasses at all times as I can't see with out them they cost up to£300 pound every 2years I work with street cleansing which can cause a lot dust which scratches my glasses should my employer pay for priscription safety glasses Hope to here from you soon
Andy - 16-Jul-12 @ 9:34 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: