Uniforms have been a point of contention for employers and employees. Who pays for them? Who keeps us the maintenance? It turns out; Federal and California law differ significantly in these answers.
Federal law stipulates that an employer can require an employee to provide their own uniform as so long as an employee's does not fall below minimum wage.
In California, however, employers cannot pass the cost of a uniform on to their employees. Employers must pay for or reimburse employees for any mandated uniform or supplies, regardless of compensation.
So what is a uniform? According to California law, a uniform is defined as any apparel of distinctive color or design or apparel with an insignia affixed on to it, that the employer mandates an employee wears. Shoes/boots that cannot be used away from work can also be considered part of a uniform. If the clothing can be reasonably worn away from work or are easily findable or accessible, then they do not fall under the employer's burden.
If the employer does provide the uniform, there are certain considerations to be aware of. Upon termination, if an employee fails to provide the uniform back, an employer may not unlawfully deduct from the employee's final wages. This can only occur if the employer obtains a proper authorization from its former employee upon termination, not upon hiring. Another lawful means is by inquiring for a security deposit upon hire. Again, the employer cannot unlawfully deduct from the employee's wages without approval or consent.
Questions regarding your employer's decisions? Contact an Aegis attorney.