Do you expect your team to wear a uniform?
As long as the organisation’s rules on dress code are reasonable and non-discriminatory, employers have a fair degree of leeway to decide what employers must wear to work.
There are many reasons a uniform is suitable for your organisation. These can be:
- Creating an appropriate corporate image
- Making staff easily identifiable to customers
- Promoting the organisation’s brand
- Keep employees’ clothes from getting ruined or for health and safety reasons.
But who is responsible for paying for the employee uniforms?
The truth is that there is no legal obligation imposed on employers to pay for uniform. However, you are not permitted by law to charge an employee for any personal protective equipment (PPE). When their employment reaches an end, they should return the PPE. If the employee keeps the PPE without having gained the consent of the employer, you may be able to deduct the costs of the replacement from any wages owed. But only if this is specifically stated in the employee’s Contract of Employment.
You can only make an employee pay for their uniform if such a provision is included in their Contract of Employment. In some cases, employers will provide two or three sets of the uniform for free and ask the employee to pay for any additional sets. Or in other cases, an employer will offer discounted rates or an allowance to the employee to be able to pay for the uniform.
Employers need to take care about making employees pay or making deductions from pay for uniforms. This is especially the case if they are only paid the National Minimum Wage. If the cost of the employee uniform takes them below the applicable national minimum wage rate, it will be unlawful. Any queries regarding this can be answered by a human resources expert.
Remember that if you do ask them to pay for the uniform, it will become their property. If they leave the organisation, they can take it with them. This may be a concern to you because you have no control over how your brand is being portrayed or whether it is being associated with something which is incompatible or detrimental to your organisation.
What happens if an employee keeps flouting uniform rules?
If an employee does turn up to work wearing something that is not in line with your dress code, you can pull them aside discretely. You can then remind them of the policy and what is considered to be an acceptable dress.
For first minor breaches it would be inappropriate to formally discipline them, but if employees continue to not respect the dress code then you can take formal disciplinary action.
To discuss your dress code requirements, speak to your Employment Law Adviser for guidance.