Can your employer ban you from wearing a poppy at work? Here are your legal rights

Remembrance Sunday, or Armistice Day, with be shortly upon us, with many choosing to wear a red poppy in memory of those who died at war.

However, the issue of wearing poppies at work is once again sparking a number of debates and questions.

Here’s everything you need to know about wearing a poppy to work and your legal rights explained.

Can employers prevent employees from wearing a poppy at work?

“Whilst legally, an employer can impose a ban on wearing poppies, this will of course be open to debate and possible confrontation, given the sensitivity of the issue,” explains Geldards Law Firm.

However, “there may well be a genuine occupational requirement for employees not to wear poppies. For example, those handling or processing food may be prevented from doing so on health and safety grounds.”

A clear dress code policy that is communicated from the outset of employment should help to eliminate the possibility of a “disgruntled workforce”.

Can employers make employees wear a poppy at work?

“It is very unlikely that an employer could impose an obligation upon staff to wear poppies at work, unless there was a genuine occupational requirement to do so and such requirement was clearly communicated at the outset of employment,” say the experts at Geldards.

Employees rights on wearing a poppy at work

“There is currently no express right permitting an employee to wear a poppy of any colour at work,” explains Geldards.

The artificial remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war (Photo: Shutterstock)

However, in regards to employers taking disciplinary action against those who choose to wear a poppy to work, the law firm explain that again, this comes back to the dress code policy.

“Unless employers have a clear dress code policy in place, preventing employees wearing charitable symbols such as poppies or wristbands for example, any disciplinary action taken for wearing such at work will be difficult to justify,” notes Geldards.

“The obligation really is on the employer to make clear what dress code restrictions operate within a business from the outset of employment. “This is therefore a timely reminder to employer to review their policies before implementing any rules, not just in relation to poppies at work but other dress code rules that may have discriminatory implications.”


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