European Court confirms the employer’s obligation to reimburse spectacles aimed specifically at the correction and prevention of visual difficulties relating to work at computer screens


European Court confirms the employer’s obligation to reimburse spectacles aimed specifically at the correction and prevention of visual difficulties relating to work at computer screens


Council Directive 90/270/EEC of 29 May 1990 on the minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment (fifth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 87/391/EEC) (“the Display Screen Equipment Directive”) lays down certain display-screen related occupational health and safety requirements. Article 9(3) of the Display Screen Equipment Directive grants employees the right to ‘special corrective appliances’ for work at computer screens.


Article 9 (1) states that workers who use display screen equipment are entitled to receive eye and eyesight tests before and during their work with display screens. Article 9(2) further entitles workers to a medical follow-up with an ophthalmologist, if required. If the results of any of those tests reveal it to be necessary, and provided that normal corrective appliances cannot be used, Article 9(3) envisages that workers are entitled to be provided with special corrective appliances, at no financial cost.


In the case C-392/21 TJ v Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrari, the applicant, an employee employed by the Romanian Inspectorate General for Immigration, whose vision deteriorated, bought new glasses with corrective lenses, after visiting a medical specialist. His employer refused to cover his costs. The applicant’s claim was first refused at the Regional Court, Cluj, Romania. The applicant brought an appeal against that judgement before the Court of Appeal, which referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). Accordingly, the CJEU addressed whether the term ‘special corrective appliances’, as per article 9(3) of the Display Screen Equipment Directive, covers spectacles with corrective lenses.


The CJEU concluded that Article 9 must be interpreted as meaning that ‘special corrective appliances’ provided for in that provision include spectacles aimed specifically at the correction and prevention of visual difficulties relating to work involving display screen equipment. Moreover, those ‘special corrective appliances’ are not limited to appliances used exclusively for professional purposes.


Furthermore Article 9(3) and (4) of Directive 90/270 must be interpreted as meaning that the employer’s obligation, laid down in that provision, to provide the workers concerned with a special corrective appliance, may be met by the direct provision of the appliance to the worker by the employer or by reimbursement of the necessary expenses incurred by the worker, but not by the payment of a general salary supplement to the worker.


In Malta, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act (Chapter 424 of the laws of Malta) and various regulations made thereunder, comprise the bulk of the regulatory framework for the promotion and safeguarding of the physical, psychological and social well being of all workers in all workplaces.


The protection of workers’ eyes and eyesight was transposed into Malta law in 2002. Regulation 10 of the Minimum Health and Safety Requirements for Work with Display Screen Equipment (S.L. 424.14 of the Laws of Malta) provides that workers are entitled to appropriate eye and eyesight tests before they become habitual or regular users of display screen equipment, at regular intervals thereafter, and if they experience visual difficulties which may be due to display screen work. Workers shall be entitled to an ophthalmological examination if the results of the test referred show that this is necessary. If the results of the test or of the examination referred above show that it is necessary, and if normal corrective appliances cannot be used, the employer must provide workers with special corrective appliances prescribed to correct vision defects at the viewing distance or distances, used specifically for the display screen work concerned and which are appropriate for the work concerned.


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Dr. Mariella Baldacchino - Founder

Mariella graduated from the University of Malta with a doctorate in law in 2005. She completed a master’s degree in ‘European Private Law’ from the La Sapienza, University of Rome, and was admitted to the bar in Malta in 2006.

Mariella is a people person – and it is this attribute which has really characterised and shaped her career.

Over the years, she headed the legal departments of several corporate services firms. Due to her skillset, she was also entrusted with managing and overseeing operations and human resources, where she gained technical and practical experience in various corporate, commercial and employment matters.

Her practical hands-on experience and insight perfectly complement Mariella’s technical knowledge of employment law, thus placing her in an ideal position to understand and advise employers and employees alike on various matters that may arise at the workplace.
Mariella is passionate about employment law matters and provides her clients with the highest-quality legal service to achieve the best possible outcome and resolve any employment law related issues and concerns.

Dr. Bradley Gatt - Of Counsel

Bradley graduated Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 2005 and was admitted to the Bar in Malta in 2006. He advises clients on various corporate, commercial, employment and regulatory matters, with particular focus on company and financial services law.

He has assisted clients in various corporate and commercial matters by providing company law advice and assisting in the implementation of corporate finance, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions and similar transactions.

Bradley has also advised and assisted investment funds, fund managers and other investment services providers, banks and financial institutions, on various legal and regulatory matters relating to the setting up, authorisation and ongoing conduct of their activities in Malta.

His practice also covers general employment law matters. Bradley’s experience in company and financial services law enables him to focus on various corporate and regulatory aspects of employment relationships. In particular, he advises organisations on the implementation of employee share option and participation schemes, the implications of business transfers on employment relationships, as well as relations with senior employees.

Dr. Karl Sammut - Of Counsel

Karl graduated Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 2005 and was admitted to the Bar in Malta in 2006.

Karl has gained considerable expertise in technology law and regularly assists clients in relation to intellectual property issues, commercial contracts and ways to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and privacy laws. Whilst such matters used to be only given incidental importance when dealing with employment matters, they are now widely acknowledged to be vital in all employment relationships. 

He is also regularly engaged by C-level executives to assist in negotiating employment contracts and settlement agreements.   

Karl advises across a multitude of industries including technology; marketing; adtech; financial services; gaming; esports; consumer products; and media and telecommunications.