Can You Charge Employees for Uniforms? Here's What You Need to Know.
Can you charge employees for uniforms? The answer isn’t that simple, so Service Uniform is here to break it down for you.
Listing the benefits uniforms provide for companies is an infinite process. Uniforms provide cohesion and professionalism, improve customer experience, and even save time. But despite their benefits, there is still the one problem we know is buzzing through your head that you can’t just ignore – money.
It’s one thing to have the uniforms, it’s another thing to have to pay for them. You want all of the benefits uniforms can provide for your business, but you have other payments to make and uniforms are just another expense. This is what typically leads business owners to require employees to pay for their uniforms and potentially even laundry service.
This saves you money, sure, but you’ve heard rumors that your employees are not too happy about this withdrawal from their paycheck. There is also a question of legality when it comes to charging your employees for their uniforms. You want to follow the law and keep your employees content in the process so you can keep your business alive.
Which leads us to the question: Can you charge employees for uniforms?
Here, we’ll break it down for you both legally and ethically.
Legally, can you charge employees for uniforms?
While we can provide a summary of the federal law requirements, make sure you do your own research and look up the requirements in your specific state. Law regarding employee uniforms varies by state, so it’s essential that you do this research. If you are still unsure about the legal requirements, it may be wise for you to speak to a lawyer to make sure you are fully abiding by all rules.
According to federal law, you are permitted to charge your employees for uniforms and to take that money out of their paycheck if that does not reduce their pay to below minimum wage and if that does not impact any overtime wages. The current federal minimum wage, effective since 2009, is $7.25 per hour, but remain aware of any potential changes to the federal minimum wage as well as applicable laws regarding your state’s minimum wage. For more questions regarding wage requirements, contact the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
Practice caution when requiring employees to pay for their uniforms and cleaning services, because if their pay dips below this minimum wage you can find yourself in a lot of trouble. This doesn’t just apply to taking the money out of their paycheck, but also to asking for cash payment. In any way that your employees pay for their uniform, this is taken into account.
The requirements are different in industries that require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Clothing that is required by law to keep employees safe on the job cannot be made an employee expense. Therefore, if your industry requires PPE you are not allowed to charge your employees for their uniforms. View the OSHA’s requirements to see what you are required to pay for, and what is acceptable for employees to pay for.
Ethically, can you charge employees for uniforms?
If you are considering charging your employees for their uniforms and uniform maintenance, you will need to face the fact that no matter what, your employees are likely going to hold some kind of grudge over the situation. But to maintain employee morale while saving your business money, it is important to recognize the deeper reasons employees do not think uniforms are a fair cost.
Put simply, uniforms can be considered a business expense and not an expense that benefits the employees personally. Now does this mean that you shouldn’t charge them at all? Not necessarily.
If the uniforms can be worn outside of work at the employee’s own personal expense (for example, if the clothing does not bear any logos and can be worn as street clothing), then it would be appropriate to have the employees pay for it. But if the uniforms can only be worn in the workplace, it can be considered unfair to force employees to pay for them because the uniforms are purely a business expense.
You should also consider wages from an ethical standpoint. Legally, the uniform payments cannot bring employee paychecks lower than the minimum wage. But ethically, even if the paychecks are above minimum wage, this still may not be considered enough money left over in the employee’s eyes. They may feel that they are not making the pay they had agreed to, or that they are getting paid fairly for their hard work.
So if you are charging your employees for their uniforms, make sure you are using an inexpensive rental/laundry service, and that the amount you take from employee pay is actually reasonable based on how much your employees make. It may be helpful to sit down with them to see what they view as reasonable, as they have their own personal bills to pay. This can give you an idea of how much they can comfortably afford.
Work with an Affordable Uniform Rental Service
So, can you charge employees for uniforms? It really depends on the situation and the laws in your area.
It is essential that whether or not you charge your employees, you’re using an affordable yet high-quality uniform rental and laundry service. You’ll keep your uniforms in long-lasting, pristine condition, so you don’t have to consistently fork over more money for brand new uniforms. At Service Uniform, we offer value-added uniform rental service for your business’ needs.
Contact us today at 210-226-2233 to learn more about how we can help your business acquire and maintain uniforms at a reasonable price.