Many employers require workers to wear uniforms that may bear a specific logo, emblem, or distinctive colour. Because employers and employees often disagree about who should pay for these uniforms, various states have enacted reimbursement laws that clearly spell out these responsibilities. These laws cover both private businesses and public-service agencies.
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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA)--work and wage amendments enacted in 1938--provide various provisions in regard to work uniform reimbursement. It does not require employees to wear uniforms, unless a uniform is a staple of a particular occupation or industry or is required by another law. Also, employers are not required to reimburse the cost of uniforms unless the expense reduces an employee's wages below minimum wage or interferes with overtime compensation. For instance, if a worker makes the current federal minimum wage of £4.70, uniform deductions are not possible, but if he makes £4.80, an employer can justify a charge for uniforms.
Some provisions of the FSLA are overruled by individual state wage laws. California law requires employers to pay for all costs in regard to purchasing and maintaining a uniform, but allows employers to collect a deposit from workers that is refunded when the uniform is returned. In Utah, if a business requires a uniform as an employment condition, it must incur all uniform costs. By contrast, according to Illinois wage laws, an employer may charge for uniforms, including cost and laundering, but cannot subtract the cost from wages without prior written consent. Since the laws vary according to location, it is important to research a particular state's provisions for clarity.
Certain types of attire requirements are not considered uniforms in some states. For example, if an employer required its workers to wear light blue shirts and khaki ties, this would not be considered a standard uniform and employers would not have to pay for these items. Illinois laws are an exception to this rule, since they recognise any company-required attire as a uniform. Also, some uniform provisions are specified in union contracts. For instance, employees of Meijer--a large retail franchise--are initially required to pay for uniforms, but Meijer's union contract requires full reimbursement of uniform costs after an employee works a specified number of days.
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