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Should a Parish Clerk be able to Claim £695 for Glasses for DSE Use?

0 votes
A Parish Council Clerk has submitted an expenses claim for over £695 for glasses for DSE use which was agreed by all but opposed by one Councillor who, because he had voted against it, was subjected to a nasty email by another Councillor accusing him of bullying the clerk for not agreeing to it.  This email was copied to all others plus the clerk who also attacked him in a separate email for questioning the price of the glasses.  Additionally, he has been informed that the amount they will pay for the glasses will not be disclosed to the precept payers as it is a health issue and therefore confidential.  Having looked at the relevant guidance, only glasses for DSE use are to be paid for by the employer and this seems way over and above what would normally be paid.  Having checked other Parish Councils, they seem to have a limit of around £100 to include glasses specifically for DSE use and basic frames.  The glasses claimed for by the clerk are not for DSE use only.  Normally, anything over and above what is required would be paid for by the employee.  The nasty emails to the Councillor for not agreeing to the amount are also of concern as they had a majority anyway.  The intimidation he has suffered has been very upsetting for him.  Any advice would be welcome.
asked by (120 points)
edited by

4 Answers

0 votes
Do you undertake DSE evaluations if so you should have a policy that covers this and an agreed contribution Detailed within for the glasses.
The amount paid does seem excessive to be paying out and if the glasses are worn permanently it would suggest the amount is not solely for DSE purposes.
answered by (1.7k points)
Thank you.  Unfortunately, the Parish Council do not have an expenses policy or one that covers the amount they will pay for glasses for DSE use.
0 votes

I presume you mean DSE use  (Display Screen Equipment). 

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time.  Employers must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if they ask for one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use.

£695 seems excessive to me with respect to meeting the regs above, and the Clerk has admitted to using them for more than just duties that require use of the councils DSE equipment.

I think the Cllr is correct to challenge the £695 -  it would have been a useful amount to pay as a grant for a community project. The amount they pay for the glasses should be disclosed to the precept payers as expenditure over £500 -  it is not personal data if the expenditure is categorised as DSE equipment or DSE support, and would not be personal if there was no reference made to the Clerk.

answered by (14.7k points)
Thank you.  I agree the amount should be disclosed.
0 votes
This looks like a failure of policy, that no limit was set.

Most DSE policies cover the cost of the test only.

If the glasses are for a particular medical condition caused solely by the use of DSE, then the council have to pay, otherwise it should be a contribution to the cost (e.g. they have a medical condition, that needs the employer to adapt).

Look at the DSE policy, and amend it ready for next time.
answered by (6.9k points)
Thank you, He did mention that other Council's have policies for this but there was no interest from them in formulating their own policy.  The general feeling was that the clerk was a good employee so should be rewarded almost as if they are a PLC who wish to reward their employees with bonuses which is I think entirely inappropriate for a Parish Council.
It seems that this council has made a spur of the moment emotional decision which was lacking in investigation and presentation of the facts and obligations of the council.
"A 'user' or 'operator' is a worker or self-employed person who uses display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specify that it applies to 'workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time not infrequent users or short-term use'."
A quick check of the clerks contractual working hours will probably show that this is not the case.
Like claiming tax for using your car for work you have to distinguish and prove how much it is used for business and pleasure. The clerk should be required to prove how many hours a week she uses a screen on PC business and have deducted from a reasonable cost (best value to do the job not meet fashion desires) for "own use"
Regardless how they emotionally feel about their clerk they are accountable to the electorate for the tax monies they spend and at all points are accountable that they get best value for money as it is not the PC's money. Therefore these amounts should be openly and honestly presented to the electorate.
0 votes

Does the PC have an Allowances, Expenses and Reimbursement or similar policy?

Such a policy should ideally indicate the clerk may be reimbursed for purchases made on behalf of the PC provided that such expenses have been approved by the PC and the purchase authorised in accordance with Financial Regulations, and expenses claims should be submitted with a payment receipt in the name of the PC on a signed reimbursement claim form.

answered by (2.8k points)
No, they do not have such a policy and even though it was suggested that they ought to have one by the Councillor this was ignored.
It sounds like your PC is just as rotten as the shambolic outfit in my parish.

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