Under the previous law, Sikhs wearing turbans have not been required to wear motorcycle helmets and Sikhs working in the construction industry have been exempted from rules requiring cranial protection: see s 16(2) Road Traffic Act 1988 and ss 11 & 12 Employment Act 1989. For school pupils there is Mandla v Dowell Lee  UKHL 7 – and the Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Regulations 1992 exempt a Sikh child under 14 years old from the requirement under the Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Act 1990 to wear a protective helmet when riding a horse on the road if he is wearing a turban. However, Sikhs working in less dangerous industries such as in factories and warehouses have not until now been exempt – which means that Sikhs in many jobs who chose to wear a turban rather than the required head protection risked disciplinary action or dismissal.
The Government has announced that turban-wearing Sikhs 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. Continue reading