April 15, 2015

Turban exemption extended

The largest body representing Sikhs in the UK has welcomed a change in employment law allowing Sikhs to wear turbans instead of safety headgear in all workplaces, as well as on construction sites.

The Deregulation Bill, which contained the measure, received Royal Assent on 26 March to pass into law.

Sikhs were already exempt from wearing safety helmets in the construction industry but had to wear safety helmets in lower risk workplaces, such as factories, warehouses and transport. Now the exemption for turban-wearing Sikhs will cover all workplaces, with some limited exceptions.

The new legislation also provides protection for employers by extending a limitation on liability for construction sector employers to work situations where a Sikh chooses to wear a turban rather than a safety helmet. 

Sikh Council UK general secretary Gurmel Singh said: “We are delighted that our long campaign has enabled a vital change in the law. It will make a real difference to Sikhs in the UK by increasing the number of workplaces that Sikhs can work in whilst maintaining their religiously mandated identity.” 

The Employment Act 1989 exempted turban-wearing Sikhs from wearing safety helmets on construction sites. Over the years, a requirement to wear a safety helmets has been introduced in many other workplaces but with no accompanying extension of the exemption for turban-wearing Sikhs.

Employment law is constantly evolving and construction sector employers need to stay on top of changes, to ensure that they remain compliant and avoid exposing themselves to the risk of workplace disputes or employment tribunal claims.

Palmers can provide comprehensive employment law services to construction sector employers including reviewing, updating and drafting employment polices and procedures for compliance with the latest legislation. For more information, please contact Lara Murray.