employee uniforms

I’d like to see how you guys handle employee uniforms. Over the years the way I distribute them has varied. I started just giving the staff a few each. Until I caught a driver checking his oil with one. So then I switched to: You get one for free then you pay for the rest.

But know with my second location I’m up to 40+ employees, with quite a few new hires. I had a few work a few days and either quit of get fired without returning the uniform.
When I worked for Dominos they took a deposit for the first shirt and required you to purchase any additional.
I’d like to start taking deposits. Any ideas???

If I am not mistaken it’s against the law to make employees pay for uniforms. See where Cheesecake Factory was hit with a lawsuit for this very thing. There are ways around it though. The deposit sounds like a great idea. I will check and get back…



Every place I worked for, charged a $10-$15 deposit for shirts. Which is refunded only IF the employee returns the shirt when they’re fired or quit.

I want to hold a deposit for the first shirt, my payroll company said they can deduct it from the check and keep track.
But what should I do about the guy that works full time, that needs more than one. Take a deopsit for each one or charge? Also do you think I need them to sign a form or would the payroll record be enough?

If you want to require uniforms, then it is just another part of the cost of doing business. Don’t be cheap about it and just pay for them. If a single person is irresponsible with them, than deal with the individual… Don’t change the rules for everyone just because you failed to correct a single employee.

Here is what the law says:

Fact Sheet #16: Deductions From Wages for Uniforms and Other Facilities Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)


This fact sheet provides general information concerning the application of the FLSA to deductions from employees’ wages for uniforms and other facilities.


The FLSA does not allow uniforms, or other items which are considered to be primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer, to be included as wages. Thus, an employer may not take credit for such items in meeting his/her obligations toward paying the minimum wage or overtime.


Uniforms: The FLSA does not require that employees wear uniforms. However, if the wearing of a uniform is required by some other law, the nature of a business, or by an employer, the cost and maintenance of the uniform is considered to be a business expense of the employer. If the employer requires the employee to bear the cost, it may not reduce the employee’s wage below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Nor may that cost cut into overtime compensation required by the Act.

For example, if an employee who is subject to the statutory minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (effective July 24, 2009) is paid an hourly wage of $7.25, the employer may not make any deduction from the employee’s wages for the cost of the uniform nor may the employer require the employee to purchase the uniform on his/her own. However, if the employee were paid $7.75 per hour and worked 30 hours in the workweek, the maximum amount the employer could legally deduct from the employee’s wages would be $15.00 ($.50 X 30 hours).
The employer may prorate deductions for the cost of the uniform over a period of paydays provided the prorated deductions do not reduce the employee’s wages below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation in any workweek.

Other Items: Employers at times require employees to pay or reimburse the employer for other items. The cost of any items which are considered primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer would have the same restrictions as apply to reimbursement for uniforms. In other words, no deduction may be made from an employee’s wages which would reduce the employee’s earnings below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation.
Some examples of items which would be considered to be for the benefit or convenience of the employer are tools used in the employee’s work, damages to the employer’s property by the employee or any other individuals, financial losses due to clients/customers not paying bills, and theft of the employer’s property by the employee or other individuals. Employees may not be required to pay for any of the cost of such items if, by so doing, their wages would be reduced below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation. This is true even if an economic loss suffered by the employer is due to the employee’s negligence.

Employers may not avoid FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements by having the employee reimburse the employer in cash for the cost of such items in lieu of deducting the cost from the employee’s wages.

Typical Problems

(1) A minimum wage employee working as a cashier is illegally required to reimburse the employer for a cash drawer shortage. (2) An employer improperly requires tipped employees to pay for customers who walk out without paying their bills or for incorrectly totaled bills. (3) An employer furnishes elaborate uniforms to employees and makes them responsible for having the uniforms cleaned. (4) An employee driving the employer’s vehicle causes a wreck, and the employer holds the employee responsible for the repairs, thereby reducing the employee’s wages below the minimum wage. (5) A security guard is required to purchase a gun for the job, and the cost causes him/her to not earn the minimum wage. (6) The cost of an employer-required physical examination cuts into an employee’s minimum wage or overtime compensation.

To be honest almost every employee has been irresponsible with them. A kid can have 3 days off and say it’s in the wash I need more. I have given my managers and full timers a handfull, it’s the new people I’m talking about. I’m using polo shirts screen printed with 3 colors, not a $3 t-shirt.

When I worked at Domino’s back in high school, the store had a linen service handle the uniforms. Employees would come in to work, change into one of the uniforms off the rack, and then put it into a laundry basket before leaving at the end of the day.

I’m certain it would be more expensive. But it would also ensure that every employee had a clean, wrinkle-free and “unscented” shirt for each and every shift.

You could also have a cheaper shirt you give new employees while training. Maybe with an altered color scheme that would mark them as trainees. After they stick around/prove themselves, then they get to don the official uniform.

when i worked for dominos we had a washer and dryer in store and at night the closing manager would start a load and then the opening shift would throw them in the dryer and hang them up when dry we used a small apt size wash dry that stacked had it plumed in right next to mop sink no one was allowed to wear uniforms out the door

I just give my people all the shirts they need. I’ve done it all to. Pay for, deposit ect. None of it is worth the hassle. Your uniform expense will be high when you are starting out like npizza. But over time you will weed out the flakes, your responsible people will remain and your uniform expense will be very low. I have 75 employees and spend less than $1000 a year on uniforms. Back in the day when I was at the npizza status my expense was way over $5000 a year.

I give my employees shirts(polo) and hats when they start. I’ll give them the right amount of uniforms depending on how many hours they’ll be working.

If they don’t take care of their shirt and it gets stained from not wearing an apron or torn I make them buy another one. But once a shirt starts to fade and look bad from normal wear and tear I get them a new one.

It’s not BS. In my state it is illegal to require an employee to pay for a uniform that is required to be worn regardless of minimum wage implications. You can say “you need to wear black pants and a red shirt” and they’re responsible for paying for it. But if you require them to wear a specific shirt (e.g. with a logo) you can not require them to pay for it. You can collect a deposit of up to $20.00 which is refundable when they return the uniform upon separation.

The state also requires only one required uniform; employers are allowed to sell additional uniforms after that.

Beyond minimum wage implications everyone should check with their state law regarding this topic as they will have jurisdiction.

Which state is that?

Piper, with all due respect… BS.

State labor laws only go so far: for example, as long as my uniform practice does not break a public law, I can do it. Just for grins, I can require an employee to wear a coat and tie, dress shoes, etc… <— and I don’t have to pay for it. The question an owner must consider, based on compensation, is what is fair to the employee - the employee is also making the same consideration. If the dress requirement is too expensive, the employee will leave.

For your information, its quite common for businesses to require uniforms and also require employees to make those purchases. Check out the US Military, for example.

http://www.employmentlawalliance.com/fi … iforms.pdf

Very true… that’s why I stated that example in my post. The issue comes up when requiring an employee to wear a specific uniform, for example with a logo. Although, based on Royster’s post you wouldn’t be able to do that in Washington which specifies “formal wear” as one of the types of clothing an employee can not be required to purchase.

Royster’s post sums it up… The original poster, npizza, happens to be located in Massachusetts. You’ll find on that link that Massachusetts is one of the handful of states that would not allow him to charge his employees for uniforms. Nevada, New Hampshire, New York are other examples. Minnesota allows you to deduct up to $50, but you must pay it back upon the return of the uniform.

I don’t really have a dog in this fight - I pay for all of my employees uniforms and I even pay an allowance for them to launder them. Just wanted to point out that there is not a blanket answer to this question and people should check with their state’s labor law before deciding.

The US Military are given an additional clothing allowance.

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/fy2010pa … niform.htm

Military Enlisted members are provided monetary allowances to pay for uniform replacement and maintenance. These allowances are based on the cost of specific uniform items, and on an estimated “wear out” date for each specific item. Below are the uniform replacement/maintenance allowances for each of the military service. The FY 2010 rates are effective from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/fy2010pa … rmnavy.htm

Enlisted military members are paid a “clothing allowance” to pay for maintenance and replacement of required uniform items. The allowances shown here are for Fiscal Year 2010 and are effective from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.
The Initial Clothing Allowance is how much an entire set of uniforms would cost. In most cases, uniforms are issued to new recruits, but some recruits (such as prior service) may be given the allowance instead and instructed to purchase their own uniforms from the Military Clothing Sales store.

The clothing allowance is usually paid annually on a member’s enlistment anniversary. Those with less than three years of service receive the basic rate (on the assumption that their uniforms are still fairly new and don’t need to be replaced as much). Additionally, their first annual payment will be only 1/2 of the basic rate (on the assumption that little would have to be replaced during the first year of service).

After three years of service, members receive the standard rate each year.

Type Male Female
Initial $1,594.37 $1,823.49
Basic $316.80 $453.60
Standard $316.80 $453.60

Piper, I agree with your original reply, that you should know your state laws. Just wanted to point out obvious exceptions to new business owners.

Gregster, I can post the entire regulation if that helps you. Elsewise, while service members do get a clothing allowance, its no where near the actual cost of uniform maintenance. Yes, if they track receipts they can deduct from tax returns. But they’re out the extraordinary costs above their annual allowance.

Piper, I really do admire and respect your time and posts - I didn’t mean any insult in my reply.

Easy, first ones free. If they want more I just charge them my cost. Also, We just moved from red to all black so you can’t see the stains, works wonders for my cooks :slight_smile: Servers black shirts with Khaki pants. I worked for just about every corporate restaurant, you could always get as many as you wanted and it came out of your check. That was in PA, NJ, FL, AL, NV, CA and OR.
Good luck this weekend!

Actually learned some new stuff I didn’t know…so thanks for posting all of it.

We can’t forget image and first impressions greatly impact our business. We used to have nice logo polos and when I realized I could order bulk screen printed shirts (Hanes heavy weight beefy t) for about 4 bucks when buying in bulk I went that route. I give them 2 shirts when they are hired and they can purchase additional shirts if need be. I charge what I pay it is not an area for me to make ANY money.

Bottom line is, Employees like new shirts and when they start at our place it is nice to give them new shirts and new hats. At anytime the employee can trade that shirt if it has a stain, rip r whatever. We cut the shirt up so it goes in the trash.

I want my employees to look and feel good coming to work. At 4-5 bucks it is worth the investment.

When they quit I don’t want the shirts back who likes to wear a used shirt?