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Cash advances help bank employees dress like pros

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in Small Business Tax,Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Umpqua Bank makes it easy for its 1,700 employees to comply with a strict, professional dress code: It lends them money to buy clothes.

Since 1996, the bank, with 150 branches in Washington, Oregon and California, has advanced money to any employee who asks for it—up to $1,000 a year—to spend on work clothes.

Managers check receipts and sign off on advances, which employees repay through payroll deductions. Employees can choose how big their payments are, as long as they pay each advance off within a year.

About 280 employees, from young new hires to senior managers, have outstanding advances totaling $46,800 right now, says Sandy Hunt, VP of rewards and recognition, who notes that most scout for sales at their favorite stores and apply for the money when they can stretch it the furthest.

Employees have to spend the cash on business wear, with one exception: The bank hosts a formal Academy Awards-like recognition ceremony once a year, and employees may use the money for formal attire to wear to the party.

The bank makes the advances just twice a year to keep the program’s administration in check.

Sandy Hunt at (541) 378-9056. 

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