Deductions and payments from workers: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other equipment the employer must legally provide
The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:
For pay reference periods commencing
* on or after 6 April 2015; National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, regulations 12(2)(e) & 13(a) * before 6 April 2015; National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999, regulations 32(1)(a), 34(1)(a) & 35(e)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is any equipment which an employer is legally obliged to provide to the worker under the personal protective equipment at Work Regulations 1992. For example safety helmets, gloves, eye protection.
Charges made by the employer in respect of personal protective equipment should be considered in the normal way (NMWM11020 and NMWM11030), however the purchase of required personal protective equipment is usually an expense incurred in connection with carrying out the employment (NMWM11100).
- If the employer makes a deduction from a worker’s pay to meet the cost of personal protective equipment, the deduction will reduce national minimum wage pay.
- If a worker makes a payment to either the employer or a third party to purchase required personal protective equipment, the payment will reduce national minimum wage pay.
It does not matter if the worker is allowed to retain the equipment (such as safety boots). Nor can the value of the boots be regarded as a payment for national minimum wage purposes (NMWM09130).
Replacement articles of personal protective equipment
A worker may choose to purchase extra articles of personal protective equipment (for example a spare pair of safety boots) from his employer or a third party. Provided this purchase is neither a contractual requirement nor any other requirement imposed on the worker by the employer in connection with the employment, then this voluntary payment would not reduce national minimum wage pay. [However, if the employer made a deduction from the worker for such a purchase then the deduction could reduce national minimum wage pay (NMWM11020)].
Other equipment the employer is legally obliged to provide
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 do not cover hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment which are covered under other Regulations. For national minimum wage purposes, charges for this type of equipment should be treated in the same way as charges for personal protective equipment.
Common issues relating to personal protective equipment
It is important to ensure the transaction is applied to the pay reference period in which it took place. For example: a deduction or payment for personal protective equipment made after the start of the employment will reduce national minimum wage pay in the pay reference period in which it is made. If the worker subsequently returns the equipment, such as at the end of the employment and is repaid some or all of the cost, that repayment will count towards national minimum wage pay in the pay reference period in which it is repaid by the employer to the worker (NMWM09050). See NMWM11160 if a payment is made by the worker to the employer for personal protective equipment within one month of the end of the employment.
Example 1: An employer deducts the £100 cost of supplying safety boots during the first pay reference period of an employment, two months later the worker leaves and returns the boots. The employer makes a repayment of £100. The deduction will reduce national minimum wage pay in the first pay reference period by £100. The repayment two months later will count towards national minimum wage pay in that pay reference period.
If the worker is required to return the personal protective equipment at the end of the employment and fails to do so the effect of any charge on national minimum wage pay will depend on whether or not there is a contractual element associated with the charge (NMWM11060). The employer can charge the worker some or all of the cost without reducing national minimum wage pay provided:
- The worker’s contract specifies that a charge will be made in these circumstances, and
- The worker fails to return the equipment due to misconduct or negligence.
The worker cannot be charged for normal wear and tear of the equipment. Any such charge would reduce national minimum wage pay.
Example 2: A worker’s contract allows for a deduction from final pay to be made if the worker leaves the employment and either does not return the personal protective equipment, or returns it in a damaged state. The worker leaves the employment, fails to return the equipment and a charge is made.
The deduction will not reduce national minimum wage pay since the deduction relates to a specific failure of the worker related to misconduct.
Example 3: An employer seeks recovery of the cost of a replacement pair of safety boots which have worn out. The replacement cost of boots after normal wear and tear is an expense incurred in carrying out the employment and any deduction or payment to cover the cost of replacing the boots will reduce national minimum wage pay. If the employer considers the worker has failed to look after the boots, the effect of any charge will need to be considered under normal rules (NMWM11020 and NMWM11030) including whether or not there is a contractual element to the repayment (NMWM11060 and NMWM11070).