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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Is an employee breaking the law by refusing to wear safety

Resolved Question:

Is an employee breaking the law by refusing to wear safety shoes when they are meant to
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Please can you describe the role and environment in which the job will be carried out in.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
the employee is pulling apallet on a pupm truck and ofloading heavy boxes by filling freezers or stacking on to shelves
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. The employee will not personally be breaking any laws, in a sense that it is actually the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employees have proper workwear and are protected against any risks. So it would be the employer who would be breaching regulations if for example they had not provided their employees with appropriate footwear to protect them from risks in the workplace. If an employee refuses to wear such footwear then they are not actually breaking any laws, but they are likely to expose themselves to health and safety risks. If the employer knowingly allows them to work without the appropriate footwear for the working conditions then the employer could be in breach. So if they are faced with an employee who refuses to wear the appropriate footwear, they can take action, such as suspending or disciplining them because the employee would be unreasonably exposing themselves (and potentially others) at risk. But to answer your query – the employee will not directly be breaking any laws in the circumstances.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights if the employee has a medical condition that may affect the wearing of such footwear, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Thank you. if the employee has a medical condition which amounts to a disability, then the employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to try and help them if they are placed at a particular disadvantage because of it. Even if there is no disability, the fact that wearing safety shoes might make it unreasonably uncomfortable may result in an unsafe situation as well. So if it is not absolutely critical to wear safety shoes, the employer could look into alternatives – if there is absolutely no way about it and the lack of safety footwear is clearly going to expose the person to a health and safety risk, then they should be removed from this position and something more suitable found for them.