Deductions for Uniforms

If the cost of purchasing, renting, or maintaining a required uniform would reduce an employee's wage below the minimum hourly rate in any workweek, you must reimburse the employee to the extent of the deficiency.


Don makes $5.50 per hour and works 40 hours per week. He is required to buy and wear a uniform for his job. The uniform costs $35.00. Since Don makes $220.00 per week, after buying the uniform, Don's weekly pay is reduced to $185.00. That reduces Don's regular hourly rate (pay divided by hours) to $4.62 which falls below the minimum wage.

Instead, the employer should spread the cost of the uniform out over four weeks. The employer could deduct $10.00 a week for three weeks and $5.00 in the fourth week. That way, Don's pay will never drop below the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, or $206.00 for a 40-hour workweek.

Time for cleaning uniforms. The federal government assumes that if you require employees to wear a uniform, they spend one hour per week cleaning them. Therefore, you have to pay them for an additional hour of work per week, unless you and your employees establish a different arrangement.

If, however, the uniform is the type of clothing that can be washed with other personal garments, you don't have to pay the extra hour per week. So we recommend that if you have uniforms, make sure they're not of the "dry clean only" type.