Who pays for DSE equipment; employer or employee responsibility?

Who pays for DSE equipment?

Are you wondering what a DSE assessment is? Or perhaps you’re waiting to have your assessment and want to know more about the process?

Perhaps you are an employer and you’re wondering whether or not DSE assessments are your responsibility and if yes who pays for DSE equipment.

Remtek Workplace DSE assessments go above and beyond the industry standard. Our professional assessors are trained in ergonomic principles, postural analysis and a wide product range.

Every assessment starts with the individual. We never make assumptions based on someone’s contact details or “known issues”.

Display Screen Equipment at work

Computers and other contemporary technology are required for many workers, yet they raise workplace health and safety concerns that must be addressed.

In the majority of workplaces, display screen equipment (DSE) is prevalent. In order to protect your employees, it’s crucial that you abide by UK health and safety legislation. This article reviews what is expected from employers with regards to DSE, how Remtek Workplace can help with the process and who pays for DSE equipment.

What is considered display screen equipment and who pays for DSE equipment?

Any device with an alphanumeric or graphic display screen is considered DSE. That includes a laptop, tablet, desktop computer, or smartphone.

Workstations with monitors, keyboards, machines, and process equipment should also be taken into account while thinking about DSE at the office.

Who pays for DSE equipment?

Who is considered a DSE user?

If an employee routinely uses DSE for continuous durations of one hour or longer while at work, they are categorised as “DSE users.” Even if an employee only uses DSE infrequently for intervals of an hour or longer, they are not considered DSE users.

Employers must consider the following hazards when reviewing their employees using DSE:

  • in stationary workstations
  • either remotely or at home
  • across several places (for example mobile workers)
  • using the flexible working approach (for example in a coworking space or home working some of the time)

Businesses should now design workstations and computer hardware with these challenges in mind. New national and international norms need to be taken into account. But the question still stands who pays for DSE equipment?

What health and safety issues does DSE raise?

Health issues caused by DSE and visual display units (VDU) use include:

  1. Chronic Pain
  2. Disorders of the upper limbs (such as pain in the neck, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers)
  3. Hand and wrist pain
  4. Back pain
  5. Stress
  6. Headaches
  7. Digital eye strain

These health issues are typically brought on by a workstation’s inefficiency. If DSE isn’t the right fit for an employee, it could lead to health concerns or exacerbate already existing ones.

If an effective DSE assessment is carried out and equipment is used properly, the risk of injuries will be minimised.

What obligations do employers have in relation to DSE?

It is necessary for employers to:

  • Identify any hazards the workstation poses by conducting DSE workstation evaluations on each employee’s workstation (such as their desk and computer setup).
  • devise and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate the hazards found during workstation evaluations.
  • provide DSE users free eye exams and (sometimes) spectacles
  • give their staff instruction and knowledge on how to handle DSE responsibly
  • Ensure that workers are aware of all health and safety requirements, such as how the free eye exams and eyewear programme at their place of employment operates.

Our Head of Ergonomics, Chris Barlow explains:

“Since the increase of home and hybrid working, the importance of looking after the health and wellbeing of your staff has never been more important. Workplace assessments not only look at the issues your employee has with their workstation but also allow us to strategize aspects of their workflow, look at how external influences impact their work routines and come up with action plans to improve their wellbeing and productivity.”

HSE DSE assessment checklist

HSE has developed a  DSE assessment checklist available here!

This list is great for getting your business started. But if you are still wondering why employees need a DSE assessment the following should help:

A workstation or DSE assessment is a legal requirement for all DSE users to ensure your business complies with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.

They enable you as a business to protect the wellbeing of your workforce, reducing the impact of WRULD’s, and RSI development, thereby increasing productivity and minimising absenteeism.

Anyone with a diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition or disability would benefit from a workplace needs assessment to put in place strategies and reasonable adjustments in the workplace. We assess across all types of disability and amongst others our clients have dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D, autism, depression, anxiety, physical, visual, hearing and other unseen disabilities.

Not everyone has an official diagnosis, so we do also assess individuals who do not have an official diagnosis of one of the conditions above, but are experiencing difficulties in the workplace that are as a result of a disability.

To find out more visit our DSE assessment page here.

DSE User

DSE: Who pays for DSE equipment?

In most cases, an employer is responsible for funding DSE assessments and equipment. However, something worth considering is Access to Work. Access to Work can help individuals get or stay in work if they have a physical or mental health condition or disability.

The support available will depend on an individual’s needs. Through Access to Work, the following can be applied for:

  • a grant to help pay for practical support with your work
  • support with managing your mental health at work
  • money to pay for communication support at job interviews

For more information visit the Access to Work page here.

Supplying eye exams and eyewear for DSE work

According to the law, if DSE users want or need one, employers must schedule an eye exam. To ensure that users can work productively and comfortably without experiencing visual fatigue, eye examinations must be offered.

According to the HSE, if a test reveals that a user requires glasses expressly for DSE employment, the employer is required to cover the cost of a basic set of frames and lenses. For independent contractors or consultants, eye exams are not a legal right.

After an initial examination, users are entitled to follow-up exams if it is determined that DSE work is wearing them out visually and at regular intervals.

When making preparations, the HSE advises considering the following:

  • Contact several opticians to ensure competitive pricing – some even have partnership schemes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if they’ll perform the eye exams on-site. For companies, several high street opticians provide discounted DSE exam packages
  • Request the usual data for each user test. If the user needs glasses for DSE work, this should indicate that, along with when they need to be retested

Make sure employees are aware of the services you will and will not pay for.

For DSE, only eyeglasses are required. You don’t have to pay for them if the user’s regular glasses are enough for DSE work. You are not required to pay for designer lenses or frames.

Information for employees?

For employees who inquire, “Should my company pay for my eye test?” No. An employer is not required to unless there is a stated obligation.


The only time an employer is required to pay for special glasses is when an employee requires them. If not, they’ll have to buy the spectacles on their own. Glasses can range in price from £50 to £119 depending on what is required.

Employee eye exams are included in the cost of routine medical examinations and health screenings under the HMRC. It explains:

“Do not treat expenses incurred by the employer in providing a health-screening assessment or a medical check-up for employees, as conferring a chargeable benefit on those employees. If an employer incurs expenses in providing check-ups for members of an employee’s family or household this represents a benefit chargeable on the employee unless the family or household member is also an employee of the employer who provides the check-up.”

Eye tests

Employers are expected to offer free eye exams to employees who use DSE and, if necessary, spectacles to enable them to work safely with DSE. The examination must be comprehensive, including an eye exam and vision test. A licenced optometrist or physician must carry out the procedure. There should be eye exams available:

  • when an employee initially starts using a DSE or when a potential DSE user is being sought out
  • when a worker wants an eye examination
  • If a worker is having vision issues that could be brought on by using DSE
  • following the advice of the optometrist or physician, at regular intervals following the initial eye examination

Employers can decide who will organise the tests: their staff or themselves.


If an eye exam reveals that an employee requires glasses, their employer only has to cover their costs if they are only needed for DSE use (ie they are prescribed specifically for the distance that the screen is viewed at). The cost of only basic lenses and frames (i.e., those required for the employee to properly perform their job, but no more) is required.

Bifocal or varifocal prescriptions may be deemed necessary in particular circumstances for an employee to perform their duties. These must be covered by the employer under such circumstances. This may be the case if the employee must focus on objects at several distances while performing DSE work and needs glasses for each distance.

DSE assessments and positioning of workstations

By positioning the workstation and screen to avoid glare or strong reflections, you can lessen the risk of employee eye strain. Try to avoid the screen directly facing windows or bright lights.

Checking a screen 

The HSE advises doing examinations on the screen to guarantee comfort before users start using DSE. These consist of:

  • Verify that each character on the screen is clear, in focus, and not flickering or moving. If so, the DSE might require maintenance or adjusting.
  • To fit the room’s illumination, adjust the brightness and contrast sliders on the screen.
  • Ensure that the screen’s surface is spotless.
  • When configuring software, pick font sizes that allow for simple screen reading when seated in a regular, comfortable working position.
  • Choose colours that are simple to the eye (avoid red text on a blue background, or vice versa).

Long DSE sessions should be broken up to reduce weariness, eye strain, upper-limb issues, and backaches. Employers must prepare so that employees can stop using DSE for extended periods of time by changing their activities.

Chris explains,

“Digital eye strain is becoming more and more prevalent, especially with the increase in smartphone and tablet use. I always like to use the 20-20-20 rule. This means you should take a break of at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet away. Easy! Look out of the window at a tree or building across the road, traffic passing by, whatever you want. The important thing is to look away from screens. Don’t use this as a break from work to check your phone. That’s just compounding the problem!”

If you need help reviewing a workspace or want to discuss DSE recommendations with one of our DSE professionals email us at ergo@remtek-online.co.uk or give us a call on 0161 7458353.

Occasionally, a remedy might be planned or timed rest periods. The following could be useful to users:

  • Move around and stretch.
  • Blink frequently and occasionally look into the distance.
  • Instead of waiting until people are recovered from fatigue, change activities.
  • Longer, less frequent breaks are preferable to shorter, more frequent ones.

DSE assessments should be re-evaluated when:

Major alterations are made to the tools, furnishings, workspace, or software; users switch workstations; the nature of the job performed significantly changes; or it is believed that the controls in place may be the root of other issues.


Summarising who pays for DSE equipment

The important thing to remember is that DSE assessments are put into place to protect screen users under the 1992 DSE Health and Safety regulations. Workers who use display screen technology for an hour or more on a daily basis must complete a DSE examination.

If a DSE assessment highlights that an employee needs a piece of equipment to work safely then their employer is responsible for providing that piece of equipment including eyewear.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s (CIPD) 2020 Health and Wellbeing at Work report, musculoskeletal injuries are the second most common cause of both short- and long-term absences in the UK. So it’s vital that employees are well looked after not only for physical wellbeing but for their mental health too. In an earlier article we explored the legal requirements of a DSE assessment. The full article is viewable here.

If you need to know more about who pays for DSE equipment or support or guidance with DSE assessments, equipment recommendations or the supply of ergonomic products send us a message today. Follow a wide range of businesses nationwide and explore becoming a Remtek Workplace Ergonomic Partner here.


Ensure that your organisation is complying with health and safety laws and look after your employees with a reliable DSE partner. We’re here to help you get started on your journey. For a FREE DSE assessment contact us at ergo@remtek-online.co.uk using the reference ‘DSEFREEassessment’.

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