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Article Nov 23

Your health counts: What subsidies are available for an ergonomic office chair?

If you need an ergonomic office chair for health reasons, such as the Aeris Swopper or Aeris Numo Task or a height-adjustable desk, there are various ways to obtain financial support.

You can contact your employer directly, apply for a subsidy from your health insurance fund or pension fund, or buy the chair or table yourself (in consultation with your employer).

Does my employer have to buy me an ergonomic office chair or height-adjustable desk?

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. The law therefore indirectly requires employers to do so, ergonomic findings for workplace design.

The Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV) is more specific. This is stated in § 3 paragraph 1 ArbStättV:

"When setting up and operating workplaces, the employer shall implement the measures in accordance with Section 3 (1), taking into account the state of the art, occupational medicine and hygiene, ergonomic requirements and, in particular, the rules and findings published by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in accordance with Section 7 (4)."

Experience shows that many employers are prepared to invest in ergonomics in the workplace as part of their responsibility for the health of their employees and due to the growing importance of active health management in companies.

Because they know that this increases the performance and motivation of their employees and reduces sick leave and the associated costs. Therefore, a frank discussion with the line manager is often enough to make them aware of an existing back problem, for example, and to ask them to purchase and set up suitable furniture.

Hier einige Zahlen, die überzeugen dürften: Deutsche Arbeitnehmer haben 2022 im Schnitt 19 Tage krank gefehlt. Jeder Krankheitstag kostet den Arbeitgeber im Schnitt zwischen 400-500 Euro. Krankheiten des Muskel-Skelett-Systems machten 13,7 Prozent an den Gesamtfehlzeiten aus und belegten damit den dritten Rang der Krankheitsgruppen hinsichtlich der Fehlzeiten (nach Krankheiten des Atmungssystem und psychischen Störungen). Quelle: TK Health Report 2023

However, if your employer refuses to buy an ergonomic office chair or desk, you can seek help from various officials or relevant organizations. These include works councils, company doctors, safety engineers and occupational safety specialists.

If that doesn't help either, other cost units are required.

Ergonomic office chair Aeris Numo Task  in an office The Aeris Numo Task enables a lot of movement and can therefore prevent back pain.

Which cost units can I apply to for a subsidy for an ergonomic office chair?

The second option is to apply for a subsidy from a funding body. Under very specific conditions, they will cover or subsidize the cost of purchasing an ergonomic office chair or height-adjustable desk for the workplace:

  • German pension insurance (with proof of 15 years of employment subject to compulsory insurance or if the office chair is necessary as a medical benefit for rehabilitation)
  • Federal Employment Agency (for less than 15 years of employment subject to compulsory insurance)
  • Employer's liability insurance associations (after an accident at work or on the way to work)
  • Integration Office (for civil servants and students)
  • Health insurance companies

  • What steps do I need to take when applying?

    Here you will find the most important steps (example of an application to the pension insurance fund):

    1. Application form of the cost bearer (here e.g.  www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de)
    2. Medical certificate or Discharge report from rehab: This should show that you can only carry out your occupation using an appropriate work aid.
    3. Job or activity description as detailed as possible so that the requirements are easy to understand.
    4. Cost estimate from a qualified specialist dealer. Important: Only buy the ergonomic office chair or desk once the application has been approved! Otherwise the claim will expire.
    5. Inform employersYou should also clarify whether your employer approves of the chair or table at your workplace before submitting your application. This is because the employer decides which work equipment is used in their company. In some companies, the company doctor or an ergonomics officer must also give their approval first.
    6. Submitting the applicationOnce this has been clarified, simply submit all the documents and then wait for an answer. Patience is now required, as the answer may take a few months.

    Tip: This should be stated in the medical certificate from the specialist:
    The attending physician must certify in a medical report that the purchase of an ergonomic office chair is "indispensable and absolutely necessary" in order to "maintain theprofessional ability to work and health" or to "enable successful rehabilitation into working life" if a rehabilitation measure has been completed. If you have taken part in rehabilitation, the information should be included in the discharge report.

    In addition, the certificate must contain as detailed a description as possible of the chair's functions, for example: the office chair must "move freely in all directions to promote active, dynamic sitting". The office chair should "adapt tothe movements of the body" etc. The more precise the details, the clearer and more comprehensible the application is for the person responsible.

    Ergonomic office chair Aeris Numo Task  in an office Subsidies for an ergonomic office chair can be applied for from the German pension insurance or health insurance fund, for example.

    What costs can be covered by German pension insurance?

    For an ergonomic office chair, German pension insurance grants a maximum subsidy of 1.305 €.

    Since 2018, German Pension Insurance has officially stopped supporting the purchase of a height-adjustable desk on the grounds that the employer is primarily responsible for the purchase of height-adjustable desks.

    Tip: Health insurance companies are not legally obliged to subsidize ergonomic office furniture and are therefore the last port of call. However, some health insurance companies have a list of aids that they will subsidize. Have a look to see if you can find an ergonomic office chair or height-adjustable desk on the list. If so, your chances of a positive decision are good.

    What should I do if the application is rejected?

    If the answer is positive, you can buy the chair and simply submit the invoice to the payer, who will then reimburse the costs up to the maximum amount. The office chair then becomes your property and you can take it with you if you change companies. If the employer bears part of the costs, you will have to come to an agreement with them if you change.

    If the application for funding for an ergonomic office chair is rejected, you have the option of lodging an appeal within 14 days.

    The doctor's certificate is often too imprecise. For example, a "recommendation for an orthopaedic office chair for the back" is not always sufficient. Sometimes certain information is also missing, which you can simply submit to the pension insurance company in a timely manner. Stay persistent!

    The cost of ergonomic office furniture can be deducted from tax.

    What if I buy an ergonomic office chair myself?

    Then you can deduct the costs from your tax bill. There are various options for this:

    Immediate deduction

    Office chairs with a purchase price of up to €800 are 100% deductible in the year of purchase. To do this, simply enter the entire invoice amount as income-related expenses in your income tax return (Annex N). Important: The office chair must then be used exclusively for professional purposes. (For this to have a positive effect on your tax return, the total income-related expenses must exceed the annual lump sum of 1,000 euros for income-related expenses).

    Standard amortization over a useful life of 13 years

    You can always depreciate the cost of the office chair (no matter how much it cost) over 13 years (according to the depreciation table of the Federal Ministry of Finance).

    However, this depreciation method is mandatory for purchase prices of €1,000.01 or more (€800.01 or more for employees).

    Creation of collective items/ pool depreciation

    If the purchase price of the office chair is between €250.01 and €1,000, freelancers, the self-employed, tradespeople and entrepreneurs are entitled to a tax-free allowance in accordance with § Section 6 (2a) EStG the possibility of creating collective items/ pool depreciation.

    All purchases in this price range are grouped together in a collective item and depreciated over 5 years using the straight-line method at 20%. This form of depreciation is particularly worthwhile for items with an average useful life of more than 5 years, e.g. office furniture with a useful life of 13 years.

    If you select pool depreciation, all products are included. It is not possible to combine immediate depreciation and pool depreciation in the same year. You can decide each year which depreciation method is more profitable for you.

    Tip: The same limits and deadlines apply to all office furniture such as tables, cabinets, armchairs and shelving as for office chairs.

    Disclaimer: Please note that we are not permitted to provide tax or legal advice and no tax or legal advice is provided with this information. It is merely general information about the products we offer, which must be adapted to the individual circumstances of each case and assessed from a tax and legal perspective. Please obtain advice tailored to your circumstances from your tax or legal advisor before making any decisions on matters arising in connection with our products. No liability is accepted.

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