Do I have to wear the protective clothing my employer gives me?

Yes. Your employer can tell you to wear safety equipment (such as gloves, a visor or boots) and if you don't, they are entitled to take disciplinary action, including excluding you from the workplace.

You are required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) to:

  • take reasonable care for your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what you do or do not do;
  • co-operate with your employer on health and safety;
  • correctly use work items provided by your employer, including personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with training or instructions; and
  • not interfere with or misuse anything provided for your health and safety or welfare.

Of course, any protective equipment or clothing has to be appropriate to the situation. For example, boots must be appropriately used when your feet need to be protected, and they have to be fit for purpose. (They don't have to be as comfortable as your slippers, but they shouldn't cause you pain or serious discomfort.)

And of course you shouldn't be required to pay for them, although if your employer buys them, they are entitled to keep them when you leave.

Your employer must:

  • ensure that where more than one type of PPE is necessary, the equipment is compatible; and
  • carry out an assessment before choosing PPE to ensure it is suitable.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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