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Must we pay for employee uniforms?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. We require our employees to wear uniforms, and we make employees pay for them. A new employee said the employer must pay for uniforms. Is he right?

A. No. There is no North Carolina law requiring employers to pay for employees’ uniforms. Employers can require uniforms. If an employee fails to comply with the work requirement, the employee may be terminated.

It is within the employer’s discretion whether the employer or employee pays for the uniform. If the employee pays, it is fine for the employer to withhold wages to cover the cost of the uniform, as well as laundry fees. However, the employee must consent to wage withholding and can later revoke the consent.

Although there is no North Carolina law concerning payment for uniforms, federal law requires employers to pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Thus, in rare cases in which a uniform or part of the uniform constitutes PPE, the employer is required to pay for this.

The federal requirements concerning paying for PPE have specific examples of items employers and employees must pay for. The regulations are at 29 C.F.R. 1910.132(h). 

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