Workwear and work shoes
As a general rule, service sector employers are required to provide their permanent employees with workwear. However, collective agreements do not generally include any specific reference to footwear. A risk of accidents may constitute grounds to require employees to wear a certain type of work shoes. In such cases, footwear is considered to be personal protective equipment, which the employer is always required to cover.
Workwear in PAM’s collective agreements
PAM’s collective agreements include provisions on workwear as follows:
Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector
Sales staff: The employer will provide permanently employed sales staff with serviceable working attire.
Warehouse staff: The employer will provide permanently employed warehouse staff with overalls or working attire and work gloves.
Service station employees: The employer will provide overalls and gloves for service mechanics, car washers and chassis protection operatives.
Window dressers: The employer will provide serviceable working attire for permanently employed window dressers.
Collective Agreement for the Facilities Services Sector
The employer will cover the costs of work clothes for its employees and give the employees the use of work tools and materials.
Collective Agreement for the Hotel, Restaurant and Leisure Industry
Work clothing must be neat and appropriate. The employer will make available to employees for use at work:
• work clothing as required by legislation or guidelines issued by the authorities;
• uniforms if the employer has particular demands as to the colour, design or uniformity of work clothing.
Collective Agreement for the Security Services Sector
The employer will arrange for guard uniforms conforming to Ministry of the Interior regulations. Any other accessories or equipment required for the job will be covered by the employer, with the exception of those intended for a dog.
Where the use of work shoes is necessary due to a risk of accidents, these are considered to be personal protective equipment, which the employer is required to cover in full.
The employer is entitled to demand that employees use personal protective equipment.
The employer is responsible for assessing the risk of accidents. If the employer does not have adequate expertise to assess the magnitude of risk, it must use external experts for this purpose and ensure their competence. (Occupational Safety and Health Act 738/2002, section 10)
In many cases, the most easily available external expert is the provider of occupational health care services, who assesses aspects such as whether the use of safety shoes is necessary as part of workplace surveys anyway.
A workplace survey may mention good ergonomic footwear to promote well-being at work. As a general rule, such surveys will clearly indicate whether this is a recommendation geared towards improving coping at work among employees whose work involves spending plenty of time on their feet or a binding obligation for the employer to provide footwear in order to prevent accidents.
Employers operating in sectors with high accident frequencies generally take great care to provide equipment, such as safety shoes. An employer is subject to considerable sanctions in the event of an accident, if discovered to have neglected its responsibilities.
Any personal protective equipment, including safety shoes, must be suitable for users. It is therefore highly unlikely that the same shoe model would be suitable for everyone.
An employer may obviously cover an employee’s work shoes even when these are not necessary due to any particular risk of accident. In such cases, the employer may only cover part of the price of the shoes. However, the employer may not demand that employees purchase such shoes and cover their own share of the purchase.