More and more businesses are looking to cut costs anywhere they can. Many require their employees to wear a certain uniform. Can they pass on the costs of the uniforms to their employees?
Generally speaking, there is no law that forbids an employer from mandating that its employees pay for required work uniforms. There are two important exceptions to this general rule: minimum wage and OSHA.
1. Minimum Wage.
The added expense from the uniforms cannot reduce the employee’s effective hourly rate below the minimum wage. Currently, Ohio’s minimum wage is $7.30 per hour. For example, if an employee is paid $8 per hour, and works a 40-hour week, the employer could charge up to $28 that week for uniforms. Any charge greater than $28 would illegally reduce the employee’s hourly rate below $7.30 for the week.
2. OSHA and Personal Protective Equipment.
Employers must also be careful if the uniforms include items that are required for employees’ personal safety. Recently enacted OSHA rules prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay for required personal protective equipment. Employers must pay for most required safety equipment. The only exceptions are non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots), non-specialty prescription safety eye wear, logging boots, and everyday clothing.
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