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Can my employer force me to wear a face mask?

The answer is “probably in some circumstances”.  It will depend to a great extent upon your job and your place of work.

A recent employment tribunal case found that dismissal for failing to wear a face mask when told to do so for health and safety reasons may be fair. Face masks are no longer required by law but employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of employees by taking reasonable steps to reduce workplace risks. Contracting Covid 19 at work is clearly a risk at present so employers have to take steps to reduce that risk.

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment and detail the reasonable steps needed to reduce any identified risks. This could include the using of face masks, particularly for working in indoor spaces and in enclosed crowded areas. Interestingly the latest HSE guidance also indicates that employers should consider encouraging the use of face masks.  

Employers will of course have to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities.

If your employer insists that you wear a face mask at work based upon its risk assessment and you refuse it is likely to result in disciplinary action being taken against you which could end in you losing your job.

If you would like to speak to someone about employment law then please contact Chris Macwilliam on 0161 764 5266 or send a message through our contact us form on the website and someone will call you back as soon as possible.