Government overturns rules on religious headgear
Sikhs across the UK will no longer face the prospect of disciplinary action for wearing turbans in the workplace, after new rules came into force earlier this week.
For more than 20 years, Sikhs working in the construction industry have been exempted from rules requiring head protection – but because of a legal loophole, those in less dangerous industries, such as those working in factories and warehouses, were not.
This meant that Sikhs in many jobs, who chose to wear turbans rather than the required head protection, could be at risk of disciplinary action or even dismissal.
Turban-wearing Sikhs will now have the right to choose not to wear head protection and will be exempt from legal requirements to wear a safety helmet in the majority of workplaces.
Tom Moyes, solicitor partner at Leeds-based Blacks Solicitors, explained more about what the rules will mean for local Sikhs.
“For years, Sikhs in the region and beyond have been put at risk of facing disciplinary action in the workplace if they chose to wear a turban instead of head protection,” he said.
“The law has now changed under the Deregulation Bill 2015 which protects Sikhs if they choose to follow their religiously mandated identity and safeguards them from any kind of disciplinary action.
“This change has been a long time coming for Sikhs and can only be viewed as consistent with existing employment legislation in which the key message is often equal treatment for all.”
Minister for Employment and Indian Diaspora Champion, Priti Patel, also praised the change in the law.
“This change demonstrates that, whoever you are, whatever your background, and whatever industry you choose – if you work hard and want to get on in life, this Government will be on your side,” she added.
“As the Prime Minister’s Indian Diaspora Champion as well as Employment Minister, I’m delighted to be part of the Government that has made this change. It makes me proud that the UK is the home of such a talented, ambitious and hardworking community.”