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Deregulation Act 2015

Section 6: Requirements to wear safety helmets: exemption for Sikhs

29.Subsection (1) provides that this section makes amendments to section 11 of the Employment Act 1989 (“the 1989 Act”) (exemption of Sikhs from requirements as to wearing of safety helmets on construction sites).

30.Subsections (2) and (3) amend section 11(1) and (2) of the 1989 Act by replacing the words “on a construction site” with “at a workplace”. The purpose of this amendment is to extend the scope of the exemption in section 11 so that turban-wearing Sikhs will be exempt from legal requirements to wear a safety helmet in all workplaces (defined in subsection (6)), either as workers or visitors, subject to certain exclusions set out in subsection (5) of this section. This amendment does not remove the requirement for an employer to assess the risk to his employees, nor to make available any protective equipment, including head protection, considered to be necessary following the risk assessment. The decision not to wear appropriate head protection in accordance with the exemption in section 11 of the 1989 Act is to be made by the turban-wearing Sikh individual.

31.Section 11(4) of the 1989 Act limits the liability of employers (and other persons) for any injury, loss or damage caused by failing to comply with a legal requirement relating to the wearing of a safety helmet by a turban-wearing Sikh. Section 11(5) limits the liability of such persons in respect of a Sikh who chooses to benefit from the exemption only to the extent that the injury, loss or damage would have been sustained by the Sikh even if he had been wearing a safety helmet in compliance with the requirement. Subsection (4) of this section amends section 11(5) of the 1989 Act so that the limited liability provisions associated with the exemption are also extended to all workplaces.

32.Subsection (5) inserts new section 11(6A) and (6B) into the 1989 Act. These provisions exclude turban-wearing Sikhs from relying upon the exemption in section 11(1) in limited circumstances where the Sikh individual is:

  • Providing, or is training to provide, an urgent response to hazardous occupational situations, such as fire or riots, where the wearing of a safety helmet is considered necessary to protect the Sikh from a risk of injury (after all other means of protecting the Sikh have been considered and implemented or rejected as disproportionate, in accordance with existing legislation); or

  • a member of, or a person providing support to, Her Majesty’s Forces and is taking part in, or is training in how to take part in, a military operation where the wearing of a safety helmet is necessary to protect the Sikh from a risk of injury (after all other means of protecting the Sikh have been considered and implemented or rejected as disproportionate in accordance with existing legislation).

33.Subsection (6) removes definitions no longer required in section 11(7) of the 1989 Act and inserts new definitions for “Her Majesty’s forces” and “workplace”.

34.Subsection (7) amends section 11(8) of the 1989 Act by replacing the words “on a construction site” with “at a workplace”. This amendment ensures that a turban-wearing Sikh may rely upon the exemption in section 11(1) regardless of whether they are a worker or a visitor at the workplace.

35.Subsection (8) amends section 11(9) of the 1989 Act by replacing the words “relevant construction site” and “construction site” with “relevant workplace” and “workplace”. Subsection (9) amends section 11(10) by removing the definition of “relevant construction site” and inserting a definition for “relevant workplace”. This amendment enables section 11 of the 1989 Act to extend to turban-wearing Sikhs and employers in workplaces outside of Great Britain if the premises and the activities being undertaken there are premises and activities to which the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“HSWA”) applies by virtue of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application Outside Great Britain) Order 2013 (“the AOGBO”). The AOGBO extends certain parts of HSWA to specified offshore areas and work activities.

36.Subsection (10) amends the heading of section 11 of the 1989 Act to “exemption of Sikhs from requirements as to wearing of safety helmets at a workplace.” This reflects the extension of the exemption made under this section from a construction site to a workplace.

37.Section 12 of the 1989 Act concerns the protection of Sikhs from racial discrimination in connection with requirements as to the wearing of safety helmets. Subsections (11) to (13) of this section amend section 12 so that any person who attempts to impose a requirement on a turban-wearing Sikh to wear a safety helmet at a workplace (rather than just on a construction site) would be discriminating against the Sikh individual under the Equality Act 2010. It would not be considered to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim such to avoid indirectly discriminating against the Sikh individual.

38.This section forms part of the law of England and Wales and Scotland. It comes into force on a day to be appointed by the Secretary of State in a commencement order.

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