Workwear, work boots and protective work equipment

You can find workwear and equipment in many professions. However, there are often questions about who is actually obliged to pay for them – the employee or the employer? We will therefore look at what the law says in this article.

6 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Personal protective equipment – what the legislation says

TheLabour Code defines personal protective equipment as follows: “Personal protective equipment is protective equipment that must protect employees against risks, must not endanger their health, must not hinder the performance of their work and must meet the requirements laid down by a directly applicable European Union regulation.”

The latter stipulates that such equipment may only be used for its intended purpose and when properly maintained. They must also not endanger the health or safety of persons, domestic animals or property. In addition, they must meet certain standards. These include, for example, the need for ergonomics, safety of materials, comfort, lightness and strength.

The law places a duty on employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work. This obligation applies not only to employees but to all persons who are present in the workplace. This includes, for example, visitors from the management, members of excursions and so on. It is also important that these obligations do not only apply to the employer, but also to employees in managerial positions who have responsibility for the health and safety of subordinate employees.

Tip: Are you planning to hire employees? Employment law can be complex and sometimes even a small deviation from it can cause big problems later on. We can help you navigate them and set up an employment contract in accordance with the law.

It is important to note that all costs associated with occupational health and safety must be borne by the employer and must not be passed on directly or indirectly to the employer. So they must not order you to pay for your protective equipment, nor must they automatically deduct it from your salary.

In addition, your employer must provide you with washing, cleaning and disinfecting products and, in some cases where employees work in poor microclimatic conditions (e.g. when you work in hot weather or in winter), ‘protective drinks’. A protective drink is not ordinary water, but a drink that protects against heat or cold. It should be natural mineral or spring water that can replace the loss of minerals. In addition, the law also stipulates that the protective drink must not contain more than 6.5% sugar and 1% alcohol (for underage workers, it must not contain any alcohol at all).

As an employee, you are obliged to use the protective equipment and notify your employer if it is damaged, lost, etc. So that the employer has the opportunity to repair or replace them.

Tip: The term “Occupational Health and Safety” (OHS) covers a wide range of issues and rules. Many employers and employees see these areas as a necessary evil and a formality. However, this can change in the event of a serious accident, an inspection by a labour inspectorate or an employment dispute. So how can you prepare yourself so that you as an employer are not caught off guard by these events? Find out in our next article.

What belongs to protective work equipment

  • Head protection: e.g. helmets to protect the head from falling objects, electrical hazards and impacts.
  • Eye and face protection: Goggles that protect the eyes from flying debris, fumes, dust and liquid chemicals or face shields that protect the entire face from splashes, sparks and chemicals.
  • Hearing protection: earplugs or special earmuffs.
  • Respiratory protection: dust masks that protect against inhalation of dust, pollen and other particles or respirators that provide protection from airborne contaminants, including gases and fumes.
  • Hand protection: Different types of gloves to protect against cuts, abrasions, chemicals and temperature extremes.
  • Fall protection: Safety harnesses and ropes to prevent falls from heights and commonly used in construction and work on elevated sites.

Work clothing and boots – what the legislation says

TheLabour Code states that “In an environment where clothing or footwear is subject to extraordinary wear or contamination at work or performs a protective function, the employee is also entitled to work clothing or footwear from the employer as personal protective equipment.” In this case, therefore, workwear and footwear are regarded in the same way as protective equipment and the same rules as those set out above apply. They must therefore be provided by your employer and they must not ask you to pay for them or deduct them from your salary.

Tip: If you have been terminated in any way by your employer, we will protect all your rights. With us, you can be sure that you will not be shortchanged.

What clothing and footwear are protective equipment

Whether work clothing and footwear is considered personal protective equipment at work is assessed on the basis of whether it is worn, soiled or has a protective function. The Labour Code does not specify exactly what constitutes wear and tear or soiling. In practice, however, it is usually assumed that workwear is considered to be personal protective equipment if it is no longer usable after one year of use and does not fulfil its purpose.

This may be the case, for example, with clothing and footwear worn in dirty workshops where it becomes dirty and worn out quickly. In addition, it is also customary for the employer to reimburse employees for the cost of clothing and footwear for hygiene or technological reasons. This would include, for example, workwear and footwear for cooks and people working in the food industry. If your employer requires you to wear uniforms, they will usually also contribute towards them or provide them free of charge. However, if you have your own special workwear that is not protective equipment, then you must pay for it yourself.

Need some advice?

Do you think you have the right to have your work clothes paid for by your employer, but your employer refuses? Ask an Affordable Advocate. You will receive a detailed description of what you are entitled to.

What occupations have work clothing, footwear and protective equipment

  • Labourers and people working on construction sites: These workers usually wear reflective workwear, helmets, steel- or plastic-toed work boots and work gloves to protect themselves from falling objects, machinery and other hazards on construction sites and in workshops.
  • Paramedics: Health care workers wear medical white work clothes. In addition, they also wear white medical shoes. These should be breathable and orthopaedic – so you will often see open-toed sandals or slippers. Clothing and footwear are designed both to keep clean and prevent the spread of infection, but also to ensure all-day comfort. In addition, healthcare workers may also wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks and gowns in certain situations.
  • Electricians: electricians often wear fire-resistant clothing, insulated gloves and safety glasses to protect themselves from electrocution and burns.
  • Chemical and laboratory workers: Workers in laboratories or industries dealing with hazardous chemicals wear special protective clothing such as lab coats, goggles, and gloves to minimize exposure to chemicals.
  • Cooks: Kitchen employees typically wear white work clothes and white non-slip work boots to prevent burns, cuts and slips.
  • Farmers and agricultural workers: Those who work in agriculture may wear specific clothing such as overalls, hats and waterproof work boots to protect themselves from exposure to pesticides, the sun and other elements.
  • Welders: Welders wear flame-resistant clothing, welding hoods and gloves to protect themselves from sparks, heat and UV radiation during welding.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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