The right to wear a turban in the workplace

Home Discrimination and Equality The right to wear a turban in the workplace
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A new employment law allowing Sikhs to wear turbans in all workplaces is now in force across the UK. The decision was made after a lengthy, decade-long campaign run by Sikh groups to address a problem with the existing law, which could have seen turban-wearers facing discrimination in the workplace.

Previous employment law had exempted turban wearers from wearing safety helmets on construction sites, yet this rule did not apply to more dangerous working environments where hazards were present, such as certain warehouses and factories. This anomaly in the employment law was created as part of the 1989 Employment Act, which allowed Sikhs to wear turbans in place of safety helmets in environments where there was a high risk of head injuries, yet this did not always extend to comparatively safer environments.

If a Sikh in these environments refused to replace their turban with a safety helmet, they could potentially face a disciplinary hearing and even dismissal from their job. However the new ruling should allow for a fairer and pragmatic workplace.

For turban-wearing employees, there remains a few roles where the wearing of safety helmets will be obligatory, such as the armed forces and emergency services.

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Elena Boura