UK plugs legal loophole for Sikhs in workplace

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 01, 2015 23:18 IST

Britain has removed a loophole in existing laws to ensure that Sikhs can wear turbans in all workplaces, meeting a long-standing demand of the Sikh community.

Turban wearing Sikhs have been exempt from wearing head protection on construction sites since 1989, but the exemption created an anomaly by applying to construction sites, but not to less hazardous environments.

A new clause into the Deregulation Bill 2015 extends the existing exemption in the Employment Act to all workplaces, official sources said here on Thursday.

The loophole 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,” the sources said.

Spokesperson for Sikh Council UK, Gurinder Singh Josan, said: “We are pleased that Parliament listened to our campaign and enabled this vital change in the law. It will make a real difference to Sikhs in the UK by increasing the number of workplaces that turban wearing Sikhs can work in whilst maintaining their religiously mandated identity.”

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