Who pays for staff uniform?
It is great that employers can decide their own rules for dress codes and uniforms at work but sometimes, too much choice makes it harder to know what to do! “Should we charge staff for uniforms? Should we limit the number of t-shirts we give out? Should we ask staff to wear their own trousers?”
What counts as uniform?
There is no legal definition for what amounts to a uniform at work but generally, any stipulation for specific clothing will class as a uniform requirement. A staff handbook can set out further clarity on a dress code, including any uniform variants but be careful to avoid the pitfalls!
Either providing specific branded clothing or requesting staff to wear ‘black jeans and a white top’ can equate to a uniform. Be careful as regards the differing tax position for these options.
Who pays for it?
With the exception of Personal Protective Equipment, there is no legal obligation for an employer to pay for uniforms.
- Employee to buy their own
Employees can be instructed to purchase their own uniforms from a prescribed list of category of clothing. The uniform then belongs to the employee.
- Employers buy it but deduct the cost from an employee’s pay
Employers provide (or buy) the uniform directly and then deduct the amount from the wages, either all in one go or in installments. This is subject to the comments below.
- Employers provide it at their own cost
Employers can provide uniform at their own cost but in these circumstances, it is sensible to limit the number of uniforms to be provided.
Usually, employers will provide a couple of sets of uniform, and ask employees to pay for any additional sets by way of deduction from their wages. We prefer this option!
It is imperative that any deductions from wages (or the cost if the employee buys it outright) for compulsory uniform do not tip an employee below the national minimum wage threshold.
Any deduction from wages must be made with the employee’s prior consent in writing. The easiest way is to include a clause to this effect in all contracts of employment – get in touch to receive your free template contract!
Don’t forget that a staff handbook should include a Dress Code and any other uniform rules as regards entitlement, deductions and returning them. Get in touch to receive a free staff handbook!
Employment Law Solutions can help
If you have any further questions on how to implement a clocking-in machine or manage its use, call the HR Helpline for your free advice!