The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled by a judgment of December 22, 2022, now made public, that there is an obligation on companies and employers to provide their workers and employees with visual correction devices, graduate glasses and contact lenses, in cases where the latter work in front of monitors and screens.
At issue is the interpretation of Article 9 of Council Directive 90/270/EEC of May 29, 1990, on the minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment. The judgment in question was a reference for a preliminary ruling submitted in Romania by a citizen under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The request for a ruling followed the refusal by the Romanian General Inspectorate of Immigration, the employer, to reimburse the Romanian employee for approximately 500 euros in expenses for the purchase of a pair of prescription glasses, the reason for which was exposure to monitors and screens.
The Ruling thus proved the Romanian citizen right, basing its decision on article 16.1 of Directive 89/391/EEC, and June 12, 1989, which establishes the minimum safety and health requirements for work in general. As a result, Council Directive 90/270/EEC was approved, especially concerning protecting workers who use equipment with visual displays, such as computers, mobile telephones, screens, etc.
As a result, the Court states that Article 9 of Directive 90/270/EEC provides for the payment of any costs associated with purchasing spectacles or contact lenses by employers to their employees and collaborators.
Can be drawn the following conclusions from the Judgment:
1 – Council Directive 90/270/EEC of May 29, 1990, lays down minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment. Its article 9(3) states that:
- “Workers must be given special corrective devices designed for their type of work if the results of the examination referred to in paragraph 1 or the examination referred to in paragraph 2 show their necessity and the normal corrective devices cannot be used.”
According to the CJEU, when the Directive refers to “special corrective devices”, it includes “graduated spectacles specifically intended to correct and prevent visual impairment in connection with work involving display screen equipment.”
2 – The same article indicates an obligation to provide workers with a particular corrective device, which can be fulfilled by providing the corrective appliances or reimbursing the costs to the worker.
The CJEU warns, however, that this obligation cannot be fulfilled by paying a wage premium to workers.
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