Your new glasses can be reimbursed by your employer

Published:
7. November 2023

A recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning glasses and the possibility of their reimbursement by the employer has come to the attention of the Czech public.

A Romanian employee demanded that his employer reimburse him for glasses for more than EUR 500. The dispute reached the Court of Justice of the European Union, which dealt with the issue in its judgment of 22 December 2022. The employee won the dispute and was awarded the right to reimbursement of the costs associated with prescription glasses.

The essence of the Court’s judgment is the interpretation of Article 9 of Council Directive 90/270/EEC on the minimum health and safety requirements for work with display units. Employees who work long hours in front of their computer monitors should, according to this directive, be entitled to an initial examination and regular eye and vision checks. In the case of visual difficulties caused by working with a monitor, the employer should then provide special eye protection suitable for the work in question. Prescription glasses and contact lenses are considered such aids, if their correction or prevention of visual difficulties is specifically related to working with monitors. However, the Directive does not impose any restrictions on the use of corrective equipment outside work.

At the same time, the purchase of spectacles to correct difficulties caused at work should under no circumstances entail additional financial costs for the employee. The Directive imposes an obligation on the employer to provide the employees concerned with special sight-protective equipment, either by providing it directly or by reimbursing the necessary expenses incurred by the employee, but not by paying a general wage supplement to the employee. Such a contribution would be taxable as an ordinary part of wages.

However, the binding nature of the European Court’s decision should only be considered in principle; specific cases will have to be assessed individually by agreement between the employee and the employer. In addition, the employee must prove a causal link between the performance of the work and the visual impairment.

Author: Roman Burnus, Anna Beránková

Author: Roman Burnus, Anna Beránková