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Staff ‘made to pay for own protective equipment’

One in five employers fail to provide essential safety gear 

According to a TUC survey - One in five workers whose jobs require safety equipment say their employers are breaking the law by making them pay for it themselves.

It is a legal requirement that companies provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective clothing, helmets and goggles, free of charge. However, 11.6 per cent of workers in the survey said their employers were failing outright to provide such equipment.  Another 8.9 per cent said they were charged if the equipment was damaged and needed replacing. This is despite the fact that the law requires the employer to take responsibility for ensuring equipment is cleaned and maintained.

PPE EquipmentThe most common forms of protection used by those who responded to the survey were footwear (84 per cent), gloves (72 per cent) and overalls or aprons (50 per cent).

Two-thirds (60 per cent) of workers said that they had to clean their equipment themselves or pay for it to be cleaned.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The fact that so many employers are flouting the law is an absolute scandal.

“Far too many workers are being forced to provide their own safety protection, whether footwear, boiler suits, overalls or gloves, and this abuse is widespread across a wide range of industries ranging from construction to catering.

“Safety equipment is needed to ensure that workers are protected from injury or disease, yet there appears to be very little enforcement of the law. As a result many workers - often those in low-paid service jobs like catering and cleaning - are having to fork out from their own pocket, or go without. This must stop. With the governments cutback of proactive inspections in the workplace this abuse can only grow.”

The reason I am sharing this with you during within my August Newsletter is because it is a topical issue and one which employees could get hold of and use against small employers.  There is clearly a legal requirement for companies to comply with the above. However, you do not have to do so for every circumstance.

An employee protective clothing checklist is useful and vital as it allows you to record what was given to the employee and when.  If an employee returns within an unreasonable timescale and asks you for further protective equipment you can request a payment for the replacement AS LONG AS you have made it clear at the outset and it is written within the checklist which the employee will sign.  This allows you, ‘The Employer’ to be reasonable, legal AND also ‘In Control’.

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