Tools of trade are tools, equipment, devices and machinery that would usually be used in the normal course of a person's profession, trade or occupation. Necessary tools of trade are exempt from the claims of creditors, up to a specific value, under the Insolvency Act 2006.
Providing tools of trade
In some industries it is common practice for employees to provide all or some of their own tools of trade, for example, building or plumbing tools, haircutting scissors.
It should be agreed by the employer and employee, and recorded in the employment agreement or workplace policies if:
- employees must provide their own tools and equipment. The agreement or policies should outline exactly what tools the employee is required to provide
- the employee is responsible for maintaining and caring for tools and keeping them in good working order (whether they are owned by the employee or the employer)
- the employer will pay the employee a tool allowance in return for them providing their own tools.
Personal protective equipment
If a workplace has significant hazards or risks, employers have to provide all appropriate protective equipment and suitable protective clothing at no cost to the employees. The exception is where the employee chooses to provide their own personal protective equipment, and the employer is satisfied that the employee’s equipment is suitable, and minimises risks to the employee’s health and safety. Employers and employees have other obligations in relation to the use of personal protective equipment. Visit WorkSafe (external link) for more information.