Should You Pay for Your Employees’ Uniforms?

Team of auto mechanic workers in uniforms

Employees in food service, hospitality, and retail, among many other professions, are required to wear work uniforms. There’s been a debate over who pays for these garments. Workers are often responsible for covering the cost. However, when it comes to employee uniforms, there are many reasons why you should consider paying for them.

Is It Legal?

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you can charge employees for their uniforms if they earn at least minimum wage. However, many tipped employees like restaurant servers and bartenders earn below minimum wage. A direct paycheck deduction or requirement to pay out of pocket for a uniform would violate the FLSA.

Federal law allows employers to deduct the cost of supplying and maintaining a uniform from a paycheck (after a deduction, wages must still be above minimum wage). Some states prohibit the charging of employees for a uniform with a company logo; others forbid employers from charging for uniforms at all.

Otherwise, your business can legally require employees to wear a uniform as long as it doesn’t discriminate against them in any way or is otherwise illegal. Uniforms must also be, by law, modified to accommodate employees with disabilities.

Why You Should Pay for Employee Uniforms

Panoramic teamwork business join hand together concept

Other than legal factors, it’s a good idea that uniforms for companies are paid for by the employer because of:

  • Quality Assurance: One reason to cover the cost of employee uniforms is to have control over quality. Your business can ensure every employee has a uniform that meets industry quality standards. Requiring workers to buy their own uniforms does not support an appropriate level of consistency.
  • Branding: Having employees buy work clothing on their own may coordinate the attire they wear. However, common store-bought items are less likely to help your brand image. Covering the cost provides more complete control of how what employees wear reflects your brand.
  • Team Building: Providing a branded work uniform can give each employee a sense of belonging and boost team spirit. When everyone works together and feels like an important part of your business, they are likely to be more productive.
  • Hygiene/Cleanliness: Work uniforms, especially in the food and healthcare industries, help reduce cross-contamination, which can put the public’s health and safety at risk. Having full control over employee uniforms ensures you can manage worker hygiene and cleanliness at a higher level.
  • Safety: If your employees regularly work around machinery and other hazards, wearing the correct high-visibility and flame-resistant clothing is critical. Some of these uniforms can self-extinguish during flash fires or electrical arc flashes. Security is also an issue for many businesses. For example, a uniform can help identify employees who work at a college or university.

Buy Employee Uniforms Online

At Prudential Overall Supply, you’ll find employee uniforms for automotive, food service, healthcare, and other industries. We offer cleanroom laundry services as well. To order branded uniforms and other facility products, browse our online inventory, request a quote, or call 800-767-5536 for assistance.