Can My Company Pay For My Safety Glasses?
Whether you work for a small or large company, you undoubtedly want to take advantage of the many perks that your company offers. Whether it is a matching 401(k) contribution or even a free gym membership, taking advantage of these benefits can add some much-needed breathing room to your bank account. Because of this, you may be wondering whether your company can pay for your glasses. To do your job well, you obviously need to see well. But whether your company can pay for your Safety glasses is an entirely separate question.
This article is designed to address that question. While your specific answer will depend on your employer and the nature of your work, there are several general rules that can help us answer this question.
Employer Payment for Glasses: A Primer
When discussing this question, the first important point is an optimistic one. The bottom line is that your company can pay for your glasses. No law or regulation inherently prevents employers from taking money from their own coffers—out of their own choice and volition—and purchasing glasses for their employees. In fact, this may be a competitive advantage for a particular company in your industry. In other words, it can be a perk that may convince one prospective employee to join a certain company over another.
Putting that aside, however, another interesting question is whether a company is forced to pay for your pair of glasses. This is a trickier question that requires us to look at regulations and requirements promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). OSHA sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. Employers are required by law to provide and pay for so-called personal protective equipment (“PPE”). PPE equipment, according to OSHA, is equipment that is worn to minimize workers’ exposure to hazards that can cause injury or illness.
While PPE payment is compulsory, there are several exceptions that apply to eyewear. Specifically, employers do not have to pay for non-specialty prescription safety eyewear—provided that the employer allows such items to be worn off the job site. This loophole exists because OSHA determined that this type of equipment is personal and didn’t want to force employers to fund equipment that wasn’t predominantly used at work. Along with this, OSHA guidance says that employers don’t need to specifically fund this type of eyewear isn’t since other competent alternatives are available. That said, the exception to this loophole is that an employer can be forced to pay for this eyewear if it can only be worn at the job site.
While non-specialty prescription safety glasses may not be included, there are several OSHA protections that can help here. Specifically, employers must pay for non-prescription eyewear protection. They must also pay for prescription eyewear inserts or lenses for full-face respirators. Finally, they must pay for goggles and face shields.
These categories signal that OSHA requires your company to pay for your safety glasses if their employees are working in challenging conditions. If you are working in a role that exposes you to things like flying particles, liquid chemicals, light radiation, chemical gases, and more, you may have a great case for your employer to pay for your eyewear.
Granted, the eyewear may not be your first choice. Your employer can comply with OSHA regulations without purchasing the sleekest pairs of safety glasses on the market. However, it is better than nothing. At the end of the day, the glasses supplied to you will need to sufficiently protect you from the dangerous elements that you encounter in your day-to-day work.
Employer Assistance for Your Eyewear
Ultimately, as with interpreting any law or regulation, the precise answer to whether your employer must fund your glasses depends on your day-to-day work. Nevertheless, there is nothing stopping a company from using its own funds to purchase your glasses. As stated above, this may be a savvy move on the part of your company’s management, as it provides a great perk for existing and prospective talent.
If you think that your employer must pay for your glasses, however, it’s in your best interest to do some research. If necessary, speak with an attorney specializing in labor law. By doing this, you will be in a better position to find an accurate answer—depending on your individual circumstances.
Contact us today to find your perfect pair of safety glasses. We look forward to helping you.