Sitting in the same chair year after year can wear a seat down, especially when you do long shifts every day. And, as we all know from experience, a worn-down seat doesn’t make for much comfort.
This means we sometimes have to ask our bosses for a new office chair… which is easier said than done. After all, no business wants to spend more money on their employees, especially not when you already have a chair.
But we’ve got your back! In this guide, we’ll outline all the steps and possibilities you’ll have to navigate to get what you want.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to formulate a solid strategy for asking your boss and getting them to shell out that office chair budget.
We found the most effective way to ask your boss for a new office chair is to persuade them by doing the legwork. Research on chairs, have payment plans, prepare detailed explanations, and find out what your company’s furniture-buying process is like before meeting with your boss.
Table of Contents
- Does my employer have to provide a new office chair?
- Can I force my employer to give me a new office chair?
- How do I request an office chair?
- How do I request an ergonomic chair at work?
Does my employer have to provide a new office chair?
Technically, employers don’t have to provide you with a new office chair unless you can prove that your current workplace setup is detrimental to your health.
Of course, using a worn-out chair that gives you no support is detrimental to your health, but most employers will want to see proof in the form of official medical documentation, which can often be hard to attain.
There is one institution that you have on your side, however, and that is OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the US Department of Labor and enforces regulations for working conditions. Most businesses have to follow these regulations, which protect the employees of most private sector businesses and some public sector organizations, including remote workers.
OSHA defines a good chair as one that supports your whole body and decreases the chance of stress, exertion, and bad posture.
While there is no explicit requirement that employers provide new or ergonomic chairs, OSHA does have a General Duty Clause that says employers must keep their workplace hazard-free. This includes any ergonomic hazards originating from old chairs, which can cause serious spinal issues from repeated, continual use.
If employers are found to be in violation of OSHA rules, they can be fined thousands of dollars for each individual violation, which is more than enough motivation for most businesses to follow the regulations.
Can I force my employer to give me a new office chair?
Technically, yes. But this might be more trouble than it’s worth.
OSHA has an online complaint system where workers can request a safety inspection of their workplace. If your workplace is found to be unsafe, your employer could be fined as punishment.
In addition, if you can prove that you have an injury directly caused by your unsupportive chair, you could file a workers’ compensation claim. This will motivate your employer to find a way to accommodate your needs so that they won’t violate ADA and FEHA regulations.
However, a workers’ compensation claim requires a doctor to prescribe an evaluation and, if that clears, a new office chair.
Thus, all the legwork falls on you, and you can be sure your employer won’t appreciate being portrayed as a villain. Even if you do get that new office chair, your work environment might become hostile, giving you a new problem to worry about.
How do I request an office chair?
It might be tempting to walk up to your boss and ask for a new office chair right off the bat, but this probably won’t get you what you want.
Instead, if you want a new chair, try to formulate a reasonable plan using these steps:
1. Research Office Chairs
First, you need to research office chairs. If you go to your company with solid details, including prices, models, features, and stores, they will take you more seriously.
To increase your chances of getting them to pay for your new chair, you should also look into buying second-hand office chairs that are still in great condition. Second-hand chairs will be more affordable, making them more likely to squeeze it into the budget.
2. Have Payment Options
Your goal is to convince your employer to pay for the chair completely, but things don’t always go as we hope they will.
Make sure you have several options to present them with regarding how the chair will get paid for. You’ll want to have at least three different payment plans.
The ideal option will be to have them pay for it entirely or reimburse you for a set budget.
The second option will be a compromise: they pay for a percentage of the cost, and you pay for the rest.
If worst comes to worst, you can offer to pay for the chair yourself as long as they agree to allow you to bring it into the office and mark it as your personal property. However, to give the first two options a better chance, do NOT bring this up until they’ve made it clear they won’t pay at all.
3. Prepare Detailed Explanations
Your employer will probably have many questions as to why you need a new office chair, especially if no one else is complaining.
To battle their reluctance, you’ll need logical, foolproof explanations that make it seem like it’s only common sense to get a new chair.
Some good points to take inspiration from include:
- Having an uncomfortable chair affects my productivity
- I have to stand up and stretch more often, wasting company time
- The chair hurts my back, and it’s causing health problems
4. Ask HR First
Before you go to your boss, you should go to your HR department first.
They typically have processes and budgets specifically for helping employees with issues like yours. They’re also usually more familiar with workplace safety regulations in your area, which you can use to support your request.
And even if they can’t approve your request directly, you can ask them for some insight into what the company would prefer. For example, some companies prefer to buy from established vendors rather than second-hand resellers for easier accounting.
5. Meet With Your Manager
If HR can’t help you, your last stop is your manager.
Set a meeting with them so that you’ll have enough time to explain your situation fully. Be sure to stay calm, friendly, and reasonable – if you sound forceful or hostile, they’ll probably deny your request.
Put in the work, and hope for the best!
How do I request an ergonomic chair at work?
If you want a new ergonomic chair specifically, you’ll want to follow the same steps listed above but beef up your explanations.
There are even more reasons to get a new ergonomic chair, and you’ll need that argumentative support since they tend to cost much more than regular office chairs.
Some points you can use include:
- Non-ergonomic chairs can cause musculoskeletal disorders.
- If you become injured from a non-ergonomic chair, you will have to recover and they’ll have to train a replacement employee – which is less effective than keeping you healthy.
- If you become injured, your employer might be required to pay a workers’ compensation fee since they could have prevented your injury.
- Elaborate on the pain your current chair causes you and how it’s affected your productivity.
- Explain how ergonomic chairs promote correct posture which prevents musculoskeletal disorders and encourages more productive work.
- Calculate the number of hours you’ll save with an ergonomic chair beforehand, so that they have a solid number to grasp.
- Include relevant statistics, like information from the Department of Labor on the correlation between work injuries and employee productivity.
Since getting into the ergonomics of chairs might make it hard for your boss to understand, you can use a presentation to aid in your explanation.
Let’s quickly review what we learned.
You can use OSHA and workers’ compensation laws to force your employer’s hand, but that’s tedious and not advisable since it will come off as extremely hostile.
To request an office chair, you should put in the work: research on chairs, have payment options, prepare detailed explanations, ask HR for their help, then meet with your manager once you’re ready.
To request an ergonomic office chair specifically, prepare more fact-based explanations, and perhaps use a presentation to make them easier to understand.
Once you do all of the above, you’ll be ready to ask your boss for a new office chair.
Put in the work, and that chair will soon be yours!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.